President Joe Biden addressed the death of Betty White in speaking to reporters on Friday, reflecting the national impact her passing has had on the culture.
“That’s a shame. She was a lovely lady,” Biden said.
First Lady Jill Biden said, “Who didn’t love Betty White? We’re so sad.”
All the major news networks covered her passing, and NBC News broke into regular programming for a special report.
White was 99, just weeks why of her 100th birthday.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted that White was “an icon and a TV legend.”
The U.S. Army issued a statement in which it said, “We are saddened by the passing of Betty White. Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. A true legend on and off the screen.”
White generally stayed out of the political fray, steering her activism to causes like animal rights. But with a career that stretched back to the earliest, experimental days of television, she was considered a pioneer of the medium who forged a groundbeaking career for women in the industry.
She also took a stand against efforts to cave to prejudices, as happened in 1954, when she was hosting the series Hollywood on Television. Some southern TV stations demanded that a Black dancer, Arthur Duncan, be removed from the cast of the show. White, and the network, refused. She noted in her autobiography, “I was livid — this was 1954, for heaven’s sake! I wanted to tell them what to do with their stations, but wiser heads prevailed.” The stations continued to carry the show “without another word on the subject.”
White had a role in the 1962 political drama Advise & Consent, a classic that went on to be shown in social studies classes, in which she played a character said to be based on Margaret Chase Smith.