In Betty White's final on-camera appearance, the TV legend shared a heartfelt message for fans: "Thank you."
White — who died Dec. 31 after suffering a mild stroke several days earlier — introduced the documentary Betty White: A Celebration, which had a one-day theatrical run on Jan. 17, what would have been her 100th birthday. "I just wanted to thank you for coming to my party," said White, who recorded the message at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she passed away. "I also want to thank you for all the support you give me. Thank you so much… Onward and upward."
The documentary's producers, Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein, had filmed with White for years, first as part of the PBS docuseries Pioneers of Television and more recently as they created this doc, a shorter version of which first aired in 2018. Boettcher tells EW they will not be publicly releasing the video of White and that they have turned down offers by various outlets and streamers to buy it. This new, expanded version was supposed to be a birthday celebration including pretaped segments with some of White's closest celebrity friends and former costars paying tribute and singing happy birthday, according to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage Betty White
In the doc, White is integral in telling the story of her life and career — from her early days in entertainment on radio and live television after its inception to her iconic roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland. And then there's all her animal advocacy, including her work with various zoos, sanctuaries, and her own television shows. Famous friends including Ryan Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Valerie Bettinelli, and Jennifer Love Hewitt share their memories of working with White, reflecting on what made her an icon and her legacy.
White's longtime executive assistant, Kiersten Mikelas, shared on White's official Facebook page a photo of White from the day she filmed the introduction. "On this special day, I wanted to share this photo of Betty. It was taken on 12/20/21. I believe it's one of the last photos of her," Mikelas wrote in the caption. "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."
In White's final EW interview, she answered a variety of questions, including some from her former costars Hewitt, Jean Smart, and Jamie Lee Curtis. In response to EW's question about advice she'd give her 80-year-old self, she said she "wouldn't dare give myself advice — I'm too old! But seriously, the advice I'd give anyone at any age: Taste every moment. Don't take anything for granted." She also revealed which of her seven Emmy Awards means the most to her, which of her past shows she'd like to do one more episode of (hint: it involves animals), her favorite color of roses, and more.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been edited to correct White's statement.