The passing of beloved film and television actress Betty White has created a widespread outpouring of tributes and memories, including from the Los Angeles Zoo, with whom she was associated since its 1966 opening.
White died on Dec. 31, of natural causes less than three weeks before of her 100th birthday (Jan. 17). Her Hollywood career lasted more than eight decades; she won eight Emmy awards and is best remembered for the iconic characters she created on sitcoms “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “The Golden Girls.”
White, who made television debut in 1939, holds the record for the longest TV career in Hollywood.
“We are incredibly saddened to hear about Betty’s passing and want to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends as we collectively mourn the loss of a true legend, on and off the screen,” states Tom Jacobson, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), the nonprofit partner of the Los Angeles Zoo.
White joined the GLAZA board in 1974. One of her first major undertakings was writing, producing, and starring in a TV special called “Backstage at the Zoo.” She recruited celebrity friends, including Mary Tyler Moore, Jimmy Stewart, Greg Morris, Amanda Blake, and LA Mayor Tom Bradley to appear in the 90-minute special, which aired in July of 1974
She would write a book called “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo,” with the proceeds benefiting GLAZA and the Zoo. White said her main goal in writing the book was to illuminate the role zoos play as centers of conservation and education.
“Betty White’s legacy will have a lasting impact on all of us here at the Los Angeles Zoo,” stated Denise M. Verret, Zoo CEO and director. “She was a long-time champion and friend of the LA Zoo who advocated for us and helped to amplify the work we are doing to conserve wildlife. She cared deeply for all living creatures — including us.
“Her loss leaves a great hole in our hearts,” Verret said. “The LA Zoo cannot thank Betty enough for her decades of support, and we share in this grief with all of you. There truly will never be another person like her.”