Jeff Witjas has spoken with People about the life and passing of comedic actress and all-around star Betty White. Witjas first confirmed the news of her death on Dec. 31 with a statement that said he thought she’d live forever, a sentiment felt by all who loved her. The star lived a glorious 99 years — 100 years and seven days if you go by a meme shared on social media that includes leap years (although there are arguments about that) or if you use rounding. Regardless, her life was full of love and joy, and that surpasses time and age completely.
Another thing that surpasses time is the love fans feel, and it’s something her long-time friend and agent shared with her often. Witjas says that White knew everyone loved her, but that didn’t stop him from telling her.
“She knew it, but I would tell her often. 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.'”
A perfect example of that was her hosting gig for SNL, where she was showered with adoration, laughs, praise, and hugs. At the end of the episode, cast members brought her beautiful bouquets of roses, and the look of sheer joy mixed with surprise lets us all know that she remained modest, never letting it go to her head. She seemed taken back by the gesture and how much love she received.
Witjas never wanted his friend to feel like the world was passing her by, especially with the last two years being so isolating — it was hard on everyone. He thought it necessary to reinforce to that she was still so beloved by fans.
“I don’t know if she ever embraced it, or really, really felt it. The extent of it. I really don’t. 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.”
While the pandemic kept her home for her health and safety, it was an enjoyable time for her too. While she missed in-person interactions, she was also content being at home in her safe and comfortable space.
The life that the veteran actress lived brought joy to so many around the globe, those who could honor and share that love with her and those with paws and beaks and scales that could never quite put it into words but showed her a love that didn’t need them at all.
White loved animals, they were her true joy, and she lived a life so full of happiness that her homegoing, while heartbreaking, is something fans can look at with a sense of understanding. Now she’s back with the people she loved so much who left this world before her — and all of those animals too.
“Betty lived a great life and she lived a life that she chose. She was happy. 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.”
Something beyond love sums it up perfectly. The way we all feel about Betty White is hard to put into words, but knowing that she knew it feels like we did something right.