Betty White, Doyenne Of US Television, Dies At 99

Betty White, Doyenne Of US Television, Dies At 99
Betty White in 2005 (File/AFP)

 

 

Actress Betty White, who made US television audiences laugh for more than seven decades, starring on popular sitcoms “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” died Friday at age 99.

The pioneering Emmy-winning comedienne enjoyed one of the longest careers in showbiz history: she began regularly appearing on television in 1949 and had a voice role in “Toy Story 4” in 2019.

“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent Jeff Witjas told People magazine in a statement.

“I will miss her terribly.”

TMZ, citing law enforcement sources, said she died at her home on Friday. The cause of death was not immediately revealed.

The news sparked an outpouring of tributes, with President Joe Biden tweeting, “Betty White brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans. She’s a cultural icon who will be sorely missed.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, said White was “a legend, trailblazer and cultural icon who blessed generations with her talent and humour. She will be truly missed.”

White was one of the first woman producers on the 1950s sitcom “Life With Elizabeth,” in which she also starred.

Later, as a nonagenarian, she interacted with much younger fans on Instagram.

“It’s incredible that I’m still in this business — and you are still putting up with me!” White said at the 2018 Emmys.

In all, she won five primetime Emmys, two daytime awards including one for lifetime achievement, and a regional Emmy in Los Angeles.

White, whose signature halo of white-blonde hair and clear blue eyes were instantly recognizable, adopted a variety of on-screen personas.

She went from playing a 1950s housewife on “Elizabeth” to a man-hungry 1970s TV personality on “Moore” to a doe-eyed 1980s “Golden Girl” retiree.

In real life, she loved delivering irreverent one-liners.

When asked by late-night host David Letterman about her favourite pastimes, the long-time animal welfare advocate replied: “(I like to) play with animals, mostly. And vodka’s kind of a hobby.”

Golden girl

Betty Marion White was born on January 17, 1922, in the outskirts of Chicago. The family moved to California during the Great Depression.

White said her love of acting started with a school production, but she credited her parents — a homemaker and a lighting company executive — as her comedic inspiration.

After a few years of modelling, she did a stint in the American Women’s Voluntary Services during World War II.

That service drew a tweet Friday from the official US Army Twitter account, saying, “We are saddened by the passing of Betty White… a true legend on and off the screen.”

After the war, White segued to radio gigs, reading commercials and playing small roles.

Her first regular television work came in 1949 on the variety show “Hollywood on Television.” A few years later, she co-created “Life with Elizabeth.”

It was through her early television career that White met Allen Ludden, her third and last husband, who hosted the game show “Password,” on which she appeared frequently.

She became a game show staple in the 1960s and 1970s before Mary Tyler Moore came calling.

White would go on to win two Emmys for her portrayal of Sue Ann Nivens on the newsroom sitcom.

Career lightning struck again in the mid-1980s with “The Golden Girls,” about four older women sharing a house in Miami.

White was Rose Nylund, the ditzy Minnesota native who was the foil to the more sophisticated characters played by Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty.

“Bea was not that fond of me,” White said in an interview with HLN in 2011. “But I loved Bea and I admired her.”

White won another Emmy for the role of Rose.

Late success

As White aged, she won over an entirely new generation of viewers — millennials who watched “Golden Girls” reruns — with her snarky, sometimes bawdy wit.

She also starred on TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” and hosted the hidden camera prank show “Off Their Rockers.”

She even returned to game shows on a revamped “To Tell The Truth.”

In 2010, at age 88, White became the oldest-ever host of long-running comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” — an experience she called “probably the most fun I’ve ever had, and the scariest.”

SNL veteran and late-night TV host Seth Meyers tweeted Sunday that White was “the only SNL host I ever saw get a standing ovation at the after-party. A party at which she ordered a vodka and a hotdog and stayed till the bitter end.”

White chalked up her long career to being “blessed.”

In addition to her multiple Emmys, White was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995.

She won three Screen Actors Guild awards, including a lifetime achievement trophy in 2010. In 2011, she took home a Grammy for the audio version of one of her books.

White and Ludden were married from 1963 until his death in 1981. The actress never remarried and had no children of her own.

AFP

Actress Loughlin Faces New Charge In College Bribery Scam

Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in Boston.  Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

Actress Lori Loughlin was slapped with an additional charge related to America’s wide-ranging college admissions scandal on Tuesday, increasing the likelihood that she could serve time in prison.

The star of 1980s-90s sitcom “Full House,” her husband and nine other parents now face the charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery on top of previous charges, prosecutors said.

Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying a $500,000 bribe so that their two daughters could gain entrance into a prestigious Californian university.

Prosecutors say they paid the money in 2016 and 2017 to that the girls could gain entrance to the University of Southern California (USC) by posing as members of the rowing team.

They have denied conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, charges that can carry penalties of more than 20 years in prison.

If convicted, the extra charge leveled Tuesday could see the parents get a lengthier sentences. Prosecutors sometimes add extra charges to pressure defendants into changing their pleas.

US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said the new indictment would further prosecutors’ efforts to hold the defendants “fully accountable.”

The ringleader behind the college admissions scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced in September to two weeks in jail after admitting paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced among 50 people indicted in the elaborate and scam to help children of the elite secure places in top US colleges.

Other universities targeted in the scam include Stanford, Yale, Georgetown and UCLA. None of the schools or the students have been charged in the case.

Actress Felicity Huffman Begins Prison Term

Actress Felicity Huffman, is escorted by her husband actor William H. Macy at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston.  Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

Actress Felicity Huffman on Tuesday began serving a two-week prison term for her role in a college admissions scam in which she paid a bribe to help her daughter gain admission to a prestigious university.

The “Desperate Housewives” star turned herself in at the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of San Francisco, in the early morning.

“Ms. Huffman is prepared to serve the term of imprisonment Judge (Indira) Talwani ordered as one part of the punishment she imposed for Ms. Huffman’s actions,” a representative for the 56-year-old actress said in a statement to AFP.

“She will begin serving the remainder of the sentence Judge Talwani imposed — one year of supervised release, with conditions including 250 hours of community service — when she is released.”

The Oscar nominee, who is married to actor William H. Macy, was the first of more than 30 parents sentenced in an elaborate and wide-ranging scam to help children of the elite secure places in top US colleges.

Huffman, who was also fined $30,000, pleaded guilty in May during a tearful court appearance to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

The scandal erupted in March when the ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, admitted running the elaborate fraud which ranged from cheating in entrance exams to bribing coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships.

Authorities say he was paid about $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators. He has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

In a statement read in court at her sentencing last month, the actress apologized to students and parents.

“I broke the law. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period,” she said.

“My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions,” Huffman added.

Actress Lori Loughlin from 1980s-90s sitcom “Full House” and her husband are facing similar charges. The pair have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

AFP

Actress Felicity Huffman Pleads Guilty In College Admissions Scandal

Actress Felicity Huffman is escorted by Police into court where she is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud before Judge Talwani at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, May 13, 2019. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

American actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty on Monday for paying bribes to help her daughter gain admission to a prestigious university, avoiding what was sure to be a well-publicized trial and probably also dodging jail time.

The former “Desperate Housewives” star was the latest celebrity brought down by the wide-ranging college bribery scandal that’s snared a slew of wealthy American parents.

In a tearful appearance before federal judge Indira Talwani in Boston, Huffman pled guilty to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, but by admitting guilt Huffman will likely avoid those penalties.

Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of a year’s probation and a $20,000 fine, though the judge can modify the penalty if she pleases.

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Huffman announced her intention to plead guilty last month, saying she was “ashamed” of what she had done. Sentencing is scheduled for September 13, US attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said.

Among the 50 people charged in the admissions scandal — a group that includes CEOs and partners at major law firms — 10 have already pled guilty, including five parents.

Another 10 parents have said they will also plead guilty in the scandal that saw some of the accused pay as much as $400,000 to get their children into their chosen college.

The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

AFP

Actress Loughlin Pleads Not Guilty In College Bribery Scam

Actress Lori Loughlin exits the courthouse after facing charges for allegedly conspiring to commit mail fraud and other charges in the college admissions scandal at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

American actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to secure their daughters’ entry into a prestigious California university, on Monday pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges.

The couple waived their right to appear before a judge to be formally accused and entered their pleas through documents filed by their attorneys, according to documents seen by AFP.

“Full House” star Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among the 50 people — including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman — indicted in the wide-ranging college bribery scandal.

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Huffman pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

Loughlin, 54, and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in 2016 and 2017 so that their two daughters could gain entrance into the University of Southern California (USC) by posing as members of the rowing team.

Their charges of money laundering and bank fraud carry a penalty of up to 40 years in prison.

The ringleader behind the college admissions scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators have pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

Besides USC, some of the universities targeted in the elaborate cheating scam include Yale, Stanford, UCLA and Georgetown. None of the schools or the students has been charged in the case.

According to prosecutors, the accused parents paid a firm run by Singer to cheat on college entrance exams for their children or to bribe coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships.

AFP

Actress To Face Trial For Wearing Racy Dress In Egypt

 

An Egyptian actress is set to face trial in January for wearing a see-through dress at the Cairo film festival this week that showed her legs, a judicial source said Saturday.

Rania Youssef appeared at the closing session Thursday of the Cairo International Film Festival wearing a revealing black lacy dress over a tight black body with her legs showing underneath.

This prompted two lawyers to lodge a suit against her accusing the actress of “inciting debauchery”, a charge that could land her in jail for up to five years if she is convicted, the source said.

The first lawsuit alleging obscenity was filed by lawyer Amro Abdelsalam and the second by Samir Sabri, another attorney known for taking celebrities to court.

Sabri told AFP that Youssef’s appearance “did not meet societal values, traditions and morals and therefore undermined the reputation of the festival and the reputation of Egyptian women in particular”.

The dress Youssef wore at the closing session of the 40th edition of the Cairo Film Festival on Thursday night sparked widespread criticism on social media.

They Egyptian Actors’ Syndicate also weighed in, without naming Youssef or any other celebrity.

“The appearance of some of the festival’s guests did not agree with the traditions and values of the society, and this has undermined the festival and the union which is responsible for its members’ behaviour,” it said in a statement.

Youssef, who is a member of the union, later issued an “apology” on her official Twitter account to the “many (people) angered” by her appearance.

“I probably miscalculated when I chose to wear this dress. It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realise it would spark so much anger,” she said.

“I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society,” she added.

Egypt is a largely conservative society.

Earlier this year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after an online video clip which includes sensual oriental dances and suggestive gestures went viral.

Last year another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.

AFP

‘ER’ Actress Waving BB Gun Fatally Shot By US Police

File photo

 

Vanessa Marquez, an actress who had a recurring role in the hit TV series “ER,” was fatally shot by police as she waved what turned out to be a BB gun, authorities said on Friday.

Officers had gone to her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena on Thursday to conduct a welfare check when the 49-year-old Marquez grabbed what looked like a handgun and pointed it at officers, said Sergeant Joe Mendoza, of the LA Sheriff’s Department.

He said after the incident “officers checked the weapon and they discovered it was a BB-type gun that resembled a semi-automatic handgun.”

Mendoza said Marquez’s landlord had called the police to check on her and when officers arrived she appeared to be having a seizure.

He said the officers and a mental health clinician spoke with Marquez “for over an hour and a half in an attempt to offer her medical care.”

“She then armed herself with a handgun and pointed it at the officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred,” he said.

Marquez played nurse Wendy Goldman on “ER” from 1994 to 1997 and also appeared on several other shows including “Seinfeld” and Melrose Place.”

Last year, she made headlines after accusing “ER” co-star George Clooney of blacklisting her from the hit show for speaking out about sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

Clooney issued a statement at the time denying he had anything to do with casting decisions.

“I was not a writer or a producer or a director on that show,” he said. “I had nothing to do with casting. I was an actor and only an actor.”

Actress Asia Argento Denies Sexual Relationship With Underage Teen

Asia Argento at the 2018 Women In The World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York City. ANGELA WEISS /AFP

 

Italian actress and sexual abuse campaigner Asia Argento denied Tuesday having had a sexual relationship five years ago with an underage teen, calling the allegations part of “a long-standing persecution”.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Argento, 42, a Harvey Weinstein accuser and leading figure in the #MeToo movement, had paid actor and rock musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 over the alleged 2013 incident at a Los Angeles hotel.

Bennett was two months past his 17th birthday at the time of the alleged encounter, while Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.

“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article… as circulated also in the national and international news,” a statement issued by her agent said.

“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read the news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” it goes on.

Argento says that she was linked to Bennett “during several years by friendship only”.

The pair had acted together in the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”, in which Argento plays Bennett’s troubled mother.

Argento said the friendship “ended when, subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett… unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me”.

 ‘Great sadness’ 

Argento became a powerful voice for the #MeToo movement after accusing Hollywood producer Weinstein of raping her when she was 21 in his hotel room in 1997 during the Cannes film festival.

Argento goes on to say that her boyfriend, the late chef Anthony Bourdain, “was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us”.

“We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,” the statement said.

“This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution,” Argento said, before pledging to take “all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues”.

Bennett’s legal action was launched a month after Argento’s accusations against Weinstein were made public, according to the New York Times report, which added that his lawyer claimed his client recalled the hotel encounter after seeing Argento present herself as a victim of sexual assault.

Argento made an emotional speech at this year’s Cannes festival, telling the audience: “Things have changed. We are not going to allow you to get away with it.”

Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman has sought to capitalise on the allegations against Argento, accusing her of “duplicity” and “a stunning level of hypocrisy”.

On Monday police in California said that Argento was not currently under active investigation over the Times report but that “enquiries will be made”.

AFP

Actress Vanessa Paradis Marries French Director – Report

file photo: taken on April 24, 2018 shows French actress Vanessa Paradis and French writer and director Samuel Benchetrit as they pose during the Colcoa French Film Festival at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood, California.

 

Actress and singer Vanessa Paradis has married French director Samuel Benchetrit, according to a report by magazine Le Parisien.

Wearing a cream-coloured ruffle dress with flowers in her blonde hair, Paradis married Benchetrit at the town hall in Saint-Simeon, east of Paris, the report said.

Photographs on the website of Le Parisien showed a smiling Paradis leaving the town hall arm-in-arm with Benchetrit, wearing a navy suit, as wedding guests threw confetti over the couple.

The small ceremony was attended by a few dozen guests, including Paradis’ 19-year-old daughter Lily-Rose Depp, born during her 14-year relationship with American actor Johnny Depp which ended in 2012, the report said.

Paradis and Benchetrit, both 45, made their relationship official in August 2017.

The French singer and actress began her career as a model before becoming a huge film and music star in France.

Paradis has two children with Depp, Lily-Rose and son Jack, but the couple never married.

Emma Stone Tops Forbes’ Highest-Paid Actress List

Fresh off winning her first Oscar, actress Emma Stone ousted Jennifer Lawrence on Wednesday to claim the top spot on Forbes’ 2017 list of the world’s highest-paid actresses.

Stone, 28, who won best actress for her role as a struggling actress in “La La Land,” made $26 million in pre-tax earnings, according to Forbes’ calculations over a 12-month period from June 2016 to June 2017.

She outpaced Jennifer Aniston, 48, who came in at No. 2 this year with earnings of $25.5 million, with residual income still coming in from the television sitcom “Friends” and endorsement deals with brands such as SmartWater and Emirates Airline.

Lawrence, 27, who topped the Forbes list for two consecutive years, dropped to No. 3 this year with earnings of $24 million, almost half of her prior year’s earnings of $46 million.

The actress, who has spoken out on equal pay for women in Hollywood, saw her earnings dip this year after the conclusion of the “Hunger Games” franchise, but continues to make money from movie deals and an endorsement deal with fashion brand Christian Dior.

Forbes compiles its annual celebrity earnings lists from box office and Nielsen data, as well as from interviews with industry insiders.

The top-ten list also includes Charlize Theron, Emma Watson and Melissa McCarthy. Forbes said no stars from Asia made the cut this year.

Forbes said the cumulative total earned by the world’s top ten highest-paid actresses – $172.5 million – was down 16 percent from the previous year.

Last year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson topped Forbes’ list of highest-paid actors at $64.5 million, more than double the amount made by Stone this year. Forbes is expected to release its list of top-earning male actors later this week.

Autopsy Shows Carrie Fisher had Cocaine, Heroin In Her System

“Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher had traces of cocaine, heroin and party drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy, in her system when she died suddenly in December, according to a full autopsy report released on Monday.

The autopsy report could not ascertain what effect the cocaine and other drugs may have had on her system.

Coroner’s officials ruled on Friday that the death of the “Star Wars” actress was due to sleep apnea and other causes.

Fisher died at age 60 on December 27, four days after she went into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

She had a long history of cocaine addiction in the 1980s and she also suffered from bipolar disorder. Although Fisher had spoken openly about her battle with addiction, it was not known that she had ongoing issues with drugs.

Fisher had likely taken the cocaine some 72 hours before she was admitted to the hospital in Los Angeles, according to Monday’s autopsy and toxicology report.

The officials said they could not pinpoint the time of exposure to the small amount of heroin found in Fisher’s system, along with the MDMA and other opiates.

But they said the drugs can suppress breathing and respiration and that Fisher had a history of sleep apnea.

After undergoing treatment in the mid-1980s for cocaine addiction, Fisher wrote the bestselling novel “Postcards from the Edge,” about a drug-abusing actress forced to move in with her mother. The book was later adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

She reprised her star-making role as Princess Leia in the 2015 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” when her character become an astute military general.

Her daughter, Billie Lourd, said in a statement to People magazine on Friday that her mother “battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.”

Lourd said she thought Fisher would “want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles. Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programmes.”

American Actress Mary Tyler Moore Dies At 80

Mary Tyler Moore, ActressAmerican veteran actress, Mary Tyler Moore, has passed on at the age of 80.

Her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Emmy award winner died in the company of friends and her husband, Dr. Robert Levine.

The Brooklyn-born actress was best known for her television roles in the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s.

She was nominated for an Oscar award for best actress in 1980 for the film “Ordinary People”.

Moore featured as TV producer, Mary Richards, in her self-titled sitcom which ran for seven seasons from 1970 to 1977.