A People Magazine cover story that prematurely celebrated television legend and comedian Betty White’s 100th birthday touting her ‘good health’ was conducted via email.
The cover story, which ran December 28 on the magazine’s website and in print with the headline ‘Betty White Turns 100!’, was published just three days before White’s death.
‘Liz McNeil conducted PEOPLE’s interview with Betty White via email a few weeks ago,’ People’s publicist, Julie Farin confirmed to ShowBiz411, ‘the answers are Betty White’s direct responses to Liz’s questions.’
In the story, White shares what she feels has kept her going for so long with her trademark sharp sense of humor and optimism. White said: ‘I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age. It’s amazing.’
She adds that she was ‘born a cockeyed optimist. I got it from my mom, and that never changed. I always find the positive.’
The actress said of her diet: ‘I try to avoid anything green. I think it’s working.’
The interview shared only those three new quotes from White while the bulk of the article was pieced together from old interviews and quotes from friends and colleagues.
White, who capped a career of more than 80 years by becoming America’s sweetheart after Emmy-winning roles on television sitcoms, died of natural causes at her Los Angeles home on Friday morning, law enforcement confirmed.
She was not battling any particular ailments and did not have a sudden illness, a source close to the star told TMZ.
Police were seen at White’s home on Friday, but stressed they were only investigating her death as a matter of procedure, and that no foul play was suspected. A black coroner’s van was also seen leaving as the afternoon wore on.
Rumors that White died from complications of a booster have been dispelled by her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas.
‘Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home. People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.’
White’s biggest role was as batty Rose Nylund in classic sitcom The Golden Girls, and she is the last of the hit show’s four leads to die, after saying she’d enjoyed good health throughout her old age.
She recorded many historic milestones throughout her eight decades on television including holding the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest TV Career for a Female Entertainer, being the first woman to produce a sitcom, and being the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live.
The People Magazine story has been accused by some of having ‘jinxed’ the celebrated comedic actress, who passed away Friday – 17 days before her centennial.
One writer, John Leavitt, summed it up best: ‘You gotta admit, having an entire magazine devoted to your 100th birthday hit the racks and then dying before that birthday is excellent comic timing.’
Journalist Ben Dreyfuss captured the mood of people seeing the story, writing: ‘Happy New Year to everyone but People Magazine who killed Betty White by tempting fate.’
Another, Shauna, wrote: ‘Thanks for killing Betty White, @people.’
The Golden Girls star herself tweeted about the story on the day it was released to her 1.6million followers.
‘My 100th birthday… I cannot believe it is coming up, and People Magazine is celebrating with me!,’ she tweeted Tuesday.
White planned to welcome fans at her 100th birthday party by having it filmed for a documentary titled Betty White: 100 Years Young – A Birthday Celebration.
The film was going to follow White in her day-to-day life and was set to screen at 900 theaters nationwide. After the documentary, cinemas would show live footage of her actual birthday party.
It is unclear if the screenings will still take place.
She was last photographed in public running errands with her driver the day before her birthday 98th birthday, in January 2020. The star spent the remainder of last year, and the whole of 2021, shielding from COVID.
Shortly after that outing, she began limiting contact with others to avoid contracting the virus. When it first surged, she said she was ‘relaxing through her quarantine’ at her residence in Los Angeles.
The star’s essential errands, like groceries, were being taken care of for her so she wouldn’t have to leave her house.
Additionally, she was ‘only coming in contact with people being equally cautious of the virus’ and who respected her state’s stay-at-home orders.
Despite the pandemic, White continued to interact with her loved ones and fans on Zoom calls.
Her last acting credit is listed as her playfully named character Bitey White in 2019’s Toy Story 4.
‘Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,’ her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement issued to People.
‘I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.’
White leaves behind a massive legacy as a comedienne, actress, author, animal rights activist and one of the first female pioneers in television.