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Betty White was well aware of her place in the hearts of others and the legacy she would eventually leave, according to her longtime friend and agent Jeff Witjas.
Witjas had represented White at APA (Agency for the Performing Arts) and told People magazine that up until her death on Friday of natural causes at age 99, he fielded countless offers from those in showbiz who merely wanted White to be in their presence.
“She knew it, but I would tell her often,” Witjas told the publication, which was preparing an issue devoted to the “Golden Girls” star for what would have been White’s 100th birthday on Jan. 17.
“Even when she wasn’t working, I said, ‘Betty, millions of people out there are still asking for you. You’re getting your fan letters. I’m getting offers for you,'” Witjas explained, adding that in his estimation, White was receptive and appreciative of the praise she received from admirers in the world.
“I don’t know if she ever embraced it, [or] really, really felt it. The extent of it. I really don’t,” he continued. “I would always reinforce it with her because I always felt she should know that. I never wanted her to think while she was sitting at home, that the world has passed her by. It never did.”
Witjas confirmed to People following her death that White had “died peacefully in her sleep.”
He added in his conversation with the magazine that White “lived a great life, and she lived a life that she chose.”
“She was happy,” Witjas recalled of the actress. “Every time I told her, ‘Betty, you’re loved,’ she would look at me with a wry smile and say, ‘Really?’ I hope she knew. I think she did. It was something beyond love.”
Witjas said White had even “promised me she would live to 100 — and she almost did.”
“She was an incredible lady. Hard to put into words,” he said of White’s sparkling aura. “We had a special relationship, far more than just a client. We became really good friends, and we always laughed no matter what we did. She was always positive, and she always saw the bright side.”
The Hollywood agent pressed that he and White even joked about her life beyond 100 and that she never made a big deal about her birthday — only to continue living the way she knew how.
“We kidded. I said, ‘Betty, we know you’re going to turn 100. Let’s start focusing on 101.’ I mean, that’s really how we kidded around,” he shared. “She never made it a big deal.”
“[She] was really simply spending each day at her home. She didn’t go out. She was under a doctor’s care, not for any reason, other than just being careful with COVID,” Witjas continued.
“I know there was a period where she would address all the fan letters,” but that eventually slowed down. “I think she just didn’t have the energy to respond the way she used to,” he added. “She was reading, she just lived her life. She was home in her comfortable surroundings.”
White, a comedy icon known for her roles in “Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” was the last living star of “Golden Girls” — a 1985-1992 comedy about four women of a certain age.
She had a rich career in films as well, most notably in “The Proposal” and more recently, “Toy Story 4.”
As for the lasting imprint White has made on the business and with respect to the simple idea of living one’s best life, Witjas is convinced, “Her work speaks for itself.”
“Her legacy was sealed,” he told the magazine. “It was sealed years ago.”
Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.
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