"The video was Betty's idea," says Steven Boettcher, producer of the upcoming film, initially titled "Betty White: 100 Years Young."
"Betty wanted to be gracious and say thank you to her fans. So she got 'glammed up,' as she called it, and went on camera."
The jovial short message, shot from her Brentwood, Calif. home, would turn out to be White's final public words to her worldwide legion of fans. Five days later, White suffered a Christmas Day stroke which ultimately led to the beloved TV icon's Dec. 31 death at age 99.
The video message has been added to a revamped movie tribute that is still planned for a one-night showing in theaters Monday. The documentary is now called "Betty White: A Celebration," and has expanded to 1,500 theaters nationwide with Fathom Events.
Betty White dies at 99: Farewell to legendary actress and America's favorite senior citizen
"Literally that's the last thing that I, or any of us, heard from Betty," says Boettcher. "So it's obviously bittersweet."
The documentary movie features White and key interviews (including Ryan Reynolds and Carol Burnett) from beloved career chapters including "The Golden Girls," "Saturday Night Live," "Hot In Cleveland," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and movies such as "The Proposal," which started the hilariously spicy mutual-crush between White and Reynolds.
Boettcher has been chronicling White for so long that she would joke to friends that "he's been embedded with me for the last 10 years," Boettcher recalls. "And then she would wink at everyone in the room like, 'You know what I mean.' "
When White died on New Year's Eve, there was discussion of canceling the theatrical event out of respect to the beloved cultural icon. "But Betty's team was adamant that it go on, that Betty would want this to go forward," says Boettcher, who produced the film with Mike Trinklein.
Besides the title change and White's added video message, Boettcher found tribute-worthy moments from the existing interviews — including words from "Hot in Cleveland" Valerie Bertinelli and Jennifer Love-Hewitt, the latter who became close with White while working on the 2011 Hallmark movie "The Lost Valentine."
"They were very close and Jennifer's message is really sweet," says Boettcher.
In previously shot footage, Reynolds showed his usual teasing bawdy humor imagining a world without White.
"Ryan said, 'I'm sure some day there'll be many statues erected in Betty White's honor. And she would have a joke about things being erected in her name,' " Boettcher recalls.
The filmmaker believes "Betty White: A Celebration" is a fitting one-night send-off for fans able to safely celebrate the icon in theaters.
"This is one of those really unique moments that just brings us together," Boettcher says.
On Monday, White's assistant Kiersten Mikelas shared one of the last photos taken of the actress on Dec. 20 — just 11 days before her death.
"I believe it’s one of the last photos of her," her assistant wrote on White's official Facebook page. "She was radiant and beautiful and as happy as ever. Thanks to all of you who are doing kind things today and every day to make the world a better place."
Other Betty White tribute events planned for her birthday Monday:
The Hallmark Channel will feature a marathon of 40 straight episodes of "The Golden Girls" in special programming called "Honoring Betty White" and will air "The Lost Valentine" at 8 p.m. EST/PST.
Fans are rallying to honor White's biggest passion, animal welfare, with the #BettyWhiteChallenge, now a trending hashtag on social media. The challenge is simple: donate to any local or national animal shelter, rescue or agency in White's name leading up to or on Jan. 17.
Los Angeles-based artist Corrie Mattie is giving Betty White a work of art for her birthday with a mural of the TV legend. The public artwork also includes a QR code which Mattie considers "a great birthday gift to her" as it allows onlookers to donate to Wagmor Pets, a local dog rescue.
NatGeo Wild will air "Betty White Goes Wild," a special about her animal advocacy efforts, Monday (9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST; also streaming on Disney+)
GSN will air a four-hour marathon of "$25,000 Pyramid" episodes featuring White at 9 a.m. EST.
Buzzr will air marathons of White's "Password" games Sunday (10:30 a.m. EST) and a daylong marathon of other game shows Monday (8 a.m. EST).
On Jan. 31, NBC will air a one-hour special, "Celebrating Betty White: America's Golden Girl" (10 EST/PST).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Betty White's 100th birthday 'Celebration' shows final video message