Betty White Left A Bittersweet Message To Fans Just Before Her Death

If there's one thing Betty White left fans with during her eight-decade historic career in television, it was smiles on their faces. Even after her death, the iconic comedic actress didn't disappoint. The woman who could always make audiences laugh in her comedic turns on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Golden Girls," and "Hot in Cleveland" was as grateful for fans as they were for her. As such, two producers offered a love letter to her life with a theatrical release that had just three showings in theaters on what would have been White's 100th birthday on January 17, 2022, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein had just distributed their documentary, "Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration" when White passed on December 31, 2021, but they released the film anyway under the title "Betty White: A Celebration" and opened it with White's last message to fans, which they filmed just 10 days before the actor's death. At the request of those close to White, they released the message on social media and as of this writing, it's been viewed nearly 1 million times since it made its debut on White's Instagram page on January 20.

Betty White felt privileged to have her fans

With such a long and storied career in television, Betty White knew she touched so many lives in ways even film and theater actors could not because she worked in an entertainment medium that people could enjoy from the comfort and familiarity of their homes, making the relationship between performer and audience so much more intimate. During the years that Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein worked on "Betty White: A Celebration," they interviewed White several times and came away with a feeling of just how much White appreciated the people who made her famous and kept clamoring for more performances from her well into her 90s.

"In one of the interviews, Betty talked about how she felt she was your favorite aunt that was kindly invited into your living room once a week, whether she was on 'Hot in Cleveland' or 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,'" Boettcher told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's different than a movie star, she always said, where you go to a movie theater, and you see them on a big screen, and they're untouchable. In the living room, you're an intimate family member. Because of that privilege she had, she always wanted to make herself approachable to her fans."

Fans got Betty White one of her most memorable jobs

It was also the love of her fans that got Betty White that late-in-life gig hosting "Saturday Night Live" in 2010, an episode NBC re-aired the night after she died. According to People, "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels told Entertainment Weekly that he had always wanted White to host but she always turned him down. However, social media is what got her to agree to say yes when a Snickers commercial White appeared in during the Super Bowl prompted a fan to start a Facebook page called "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!" From that page, a petitition was started that eventually got hundreds of thousands of signatures, so White agreed to host.

"It was one of the most incredible experiences — it truly, truly was," White's agent and friend Jeff Witjas told People following her December 31 death. "Betty didn't really want to go to New York to do it, but I said to her, 'You have to do it.' I mean, how could she not? And she trusted me."

Betty White wanted to thank her fans for being her friend

It was that legion of fans that Betty White wanted to thank when Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein, the producers of the film "Betty White: A Celebration," were getting ready to release the documentary about her life. Boettcher told The Hollywood Reporter that White asked to film a brief message and was thrilled to get dressed up to do so, telling the producers, "I want my fans to know this."

Boettcher described the setup as they filmed the clip. "It was December 20, in her home. Betty loved getting glammed up, as she called it. The dress, the hair, the look — she just loved that," he said. "It's probably about a minute or two long clip of just her looking directly in the camera as the graciously fun, warm Betty. She thanks all her fans over the years and for being out on the 17th to see the film. It's just got that twinkle that's Betty. The great thing about it is that she didn't read it off the teleprompter or have a script. She ad-libbed it, and that's Betty to the very end."

That from the heart moment lent itself to a sweet message that can bring some fans to tears, watching the 99-year-old White smile in a green silk jacket and top as she spoke in a weakened and hoarse voice that was still so full of life. "I just want to thank you all for your love and support over the years," White said (via Instagram), looking directly at the camera. "Thank you so much, and, stick around."