Betty White, former member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services and legendary comedian, dies at 99

Betty White, former member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services and legendary comedian, dies at 99

Actress Betty White, who lit up the silver screen for nine decades, died Friday. She was 99.

Her 100th birthday would have been Jan. 17.

Known primarily as a comedian whose career began at the age of eight, White also served during World War II with the American Women’s Voluntary Service.

“We are saddened by the passing of Betty White,” the U.S. Army tweeted. “Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during World War II as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services.”

The volunteer group amassed more than 300,000 members and “provided a variety of services and support; they sold war bonds, and delivered messages, they drove ambulances, trucks, cycle corps and dog-sleds, they also worked in navigation, aerial photography, aircraft spotting, and fire safety,” according to Museum Textile Services.

“It was a strange time and out of balance with everything,” White is reported to have said of her time aiding the war effort.

When the war ended in 1945, she married U.S. Army Air Force pilot Dick Barker. The couple moved to an Ohio chicken farm owned by Barker’s parents, but their marriage ended after eight short months, Newsweek wrote.

After the divorce, White was married to Hollywood talent agent Lane Allen for two years until he asked her to give up her career for domesticity. She refused.

Her big break came the same year as her second divorce, in 1949, when she earned a spot on Hollywood on Television with host Al Jarvis. For her work with the series, she took home the Best Actress Emmy nomination in 1951, and became the first female host of a TV show after Jarvis and his successor Eddie Albert exited.

She is most famous for her roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore show” and “Golden Girls,” sitcoms that highlighted her comedic breadth.

Over the course of her 91-year career, White won eight Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy.

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Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.





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Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.