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Tributes pour in for ‘cultural icon’ Betty White, as fans from Biden to Ryan Reynolds pay homage

Flowers, stuffed toys and cards are placed on Betty White's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star in remembrance of the actress on Dec. 31. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
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Who didn’t love Betty White?

As news of the iconic comedian’s death at her Los Angeles home became public Friday, appreciation poured in from all corners of the country — including from the president.

“That’s a shame. She was a lovely lady,” President Biden said as he was informed of White’s passing as he left a lunch in Delaware, later tweeting that she was a “cultural icon.”

The 99-year-old actress — legend of film, television and razor-sharp comedic timing — had an age-defying career that spanned nearly eight decades. From her appearance as a child on a radio program to her role in the iconic 1970s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” series to her scene-stealing appearance in the 2009 film “The Proposal,” White’s comedy never grew old. But it was her role as the always sunny Rose Nylund on the NBC comedy “The Golden Girls” that cemented the actress as a national treasure.

Betty White, one of the most endearing and enduring faces on television, dies at 99

White, who reveled in her elder stateswoman status, was just weeks away from her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. In a recent People magazine cover story marking the upcoming milestone, White said she was “so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age … It’s amazing.”

For years, White’s “The Proposal” co-star Ryan Reynolds joked that the nonagenarian was his “ex-girlfriend.” White joked to People in a piece published Wednesday that “he can’t get over his thing for me, but Robert Redford is The One.”

On Friday, Reynolds reflected on her passing.

“The world looks different now,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin, who worked with White on the sitcom “Suddenly Susan” and her reality show “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” wrote on Twitter that White “actually treated me like an equal in the comedy gurrrl world. She was as sharp and funny as she was soft and wise … and no matter how long this world continues to spin, there will be only one Betty White.”

“Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig called White a “genius” and, like many others on social media, lamented the news of her death on the last day of an already tumultuous year: “Man, 2021, you just couldn’t slip out without one more punch in the face, could you?” he wrote. “It’s hard to imagine a world without her. It’ll be a much less funny place, that’s for sure.”

‘Live with it’: Betty White defied racist demands in 1954

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who had the “Golden Girls” star on her show many times over the years, wrote on Twitter that the actress had lived “an exceptional life” and that she was “grateful for every second I got to spend with Betty White.”

But it wasn’t just individuals and celebrities who felt White’s impact. Networks such as Comedy Central and Netflix dedicated tweets to White, as well as advocacy groups like GLAAD. White was a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community and participated in one of GLAAD’s anti-bullying campaigns in 2013, joking that she should change her name to Betty Purple as a show of support. On Friday, the organization shouted out the “supporter of LGBTQ equality and acceptance” and, borrowing a line from the “Golden Girls” theme song, thanked White “for being a friend.” also paid homage to the actress, simply tweeting the word “golden” and adding a fourth definition: “Betty White.”