Photos of Betty White throughout the years: A look back at the icon’s life

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Betty White in a photograph taken on April 01, 1954 (Getty Images/Bettmann)

Betty White, who died at the age of 99, will leave behind a legacy that touched the lives of millions of fans.

She will be remembered as a legendary TV actress, who had one of the longest careers in television history and has become a national treasure over the years. 

She is best known for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls" roles, both sitcoms which have been included on the list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time by the Writers Guild of America.

She was born on Jan. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. She was the only child of Horace Logan White, an electrical engineer, and Christine Tess, a homemaker. When she was 2, White and her family moved to Alhambra, California, and later to Los Angeles. She attended Beverly Hills High School, graduating in 1939.

Betty White

Betty White in a photograph taken on April 01, 1954 (Getty Images/Bettmann)

Before pursuing a career in acting, White had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors. She expressed in interviews throughout her career that she had wanted to become a forest ranger but at the time women were not allowed in the profession. It wasn’t until 2010 that the United States Forest Service made her an honorary ranger. 

Before White’s career in television, she worked in theater, radio and as a model, but her aspirations of stardom were put on pause when World War II broke out. White hung up her ambitions and joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services driving PX trucks throughout Los Angeles delivering military supplies. She would also participate in song and dance shows for soldiers before they were sent overseas.


Betty White sits in a canvas chair with her name written on the back, looking over her shoulder in a backyard garden in 1956. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

After the war, White started working in radio reading for commercials and doing whatever she could to get her foot in the door. She would eventually appear on several game shows as co-host with Al Jarvis on his television variety show, "Hollywood on Television."


Edward Asner, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight at the 28th Annual Television Academy Awards on May 17, 1976. (Getty Images/Bettmann)

White would eventually go on to host the show on her own. It was there that she met the series' pianist George Tibbles, and together they formed their own production company, Bandy Productions. Taking from sketches previously written for "Hollywood on Television," White and Tibbles developed a 30-minute-long sitcom called "Life With Elizabeth." She received her first Emmy Award nomination for her work on the series, before going on to star in the series "Date with the Angels," a comedic portrayal of domestic life.

WATCH: Betty White sitcom Date with the Angels

White always maintained her status as a frequent guest on many television game shows, including "To Tell the Truth," and "Password," which was hosted by Allen Ludden who would later become White's third husband in 1963 until his death in 1981. Ludden died of complications from stomach cancer, and while the two had no children together, White played an active role as stepmother to his three children from a previous marriage. White never remarried.


Betty White is honored as she rides in a Chevrolet in the Chirstmas Parade in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 1, 1955. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In 1973, White’s career skyrocketed with her next television series, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," a sitcom set in a television newsroom. White played Sue Ann, a character whose sweet smile hid a mischievous sharp wit, setting in motion White’s iconic television demeanor. Her character served as a coworker to the show’s star, Mary Tyler Moore, in a Minneapolis television newsroom. White would eventually win two Emmy Awards for her work on the show. 

White would then go on to play Rose Nylund on the extremely successful 1980s sitcom "The Golden Girls." The series lasted for seven seasons, eventually winning White another Emmy Award. The show would go off the air in 1992 until White reprised her role in the short-lived spin-off, "Golden Palace." White would go on to guest star in a handful of television series including "The John Larroquette Show," in which she played herself, earning her yet another Emmy.


Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Lynn Redgrave and Carol Channing (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

White won five Emmy Awards and three American Comedy Awards, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame alongside her late husband Allen Ludden.

White’s success continued with her first Grammy in 2012 for a spoken-word recording of her bestselling book "If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t)." That same year, White hosted a hidden camera show, "Betty White’s Off Their Rockers," where she and her cast would play pranks on unsuspecting younger people. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work on the show


Betty White and the writers of "Golden Girls" during 38th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

White, a well-known animal lover, was extremely active in animal health, working with various organizations such as the Los Angeles Zoo, the Morris Animal Foundation and the African Wildlife Foundation. She was known to be a huge contributor to the Los Angeles Zoo and other wildlife organizations. For nearly 40 years, White served as a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.

Betty White leaves behind a legacy that has touched the hearts of millions. She has entered homes through generations of viewers with her iconic wit and sharp personality. Her loving nature and comedic prowess resonated for audiences young and old.

WATCH: Betty White: Champion for Animals, streaming free on Tubi

This story was reported from Cincinnati, Detroit and Los Angeles. Allison Shoemaker also contributed to this report.