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Aug. 12, 2022

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‘Betty White Day’ set in hometown to celebrate 100th birthday


A birthday celebration fit for a queen has pivoted to a memorial for the last of America’s treasured “Golden Girls.”

On what would’ve been her 100th birthday, Betty White’s hometown is set to pay a fitting tribute to the late television icon.

The star of landmark sitcoms such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Hot in Cleveland” — who died Dec. 31 just three weeks shy of her Jan. 17th centennial — will have a day named after her in Oak Park, Ill.

Due to the nationally Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance on Jan. 17, event organizer Lourdes Nicholls told The Daily News on Thursday that official festivities will commence Jan. 15, with festivities kicking off at 10 a.m.

The Saturday event will include a giant birthday cake made by Turano Baking Company, a Betty White mural contest, a pet adoption event (with The Animal Care League) and the lighting of the local Lake Theatre’s marquee. Local businesses will feature specials of White’s favorite foods — which she said in 2012 were “hot dogs and Red Vines and potato chips and French fries.”

A performance by Cindy Fee, the fellow Oak Parker who sang the iconic “Golden Girls” theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend” is also scheduled.

“Oak Park is not quite St. Olaf but we are proud to be Betty White’s real hometown,” Nicholls shared, referencing the Minnesota birthplace of White’s “Golden Girls” character Rose Nylund. “We look forward to celebrating her on January 15th.”

Though raised in Los Angeles since early childhood, White was born at West Suburban Hospital in 1922 and lived with her parents in an apartment on Pleasant Street and a house on North Taylor Avenue.

Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman is scheduled to give a proclamation for Betty White Day and a representative from the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest will give a speech on what Oak Park looked like 100 years ago.

“Betty White, as a true optimist, made the choice every day to be happy,” Scaman told The Daily News. “Embracing the memory of her amazing life and taking the time to honor her feels like a symbol of hope. She has given us so much to smile and laugh to. We are proud to know and celebrate her connection to the Village of Oak Park.”

White’s 100th birthday is also being celebrated on social media with the Twitter hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge, encouraging fans to donate $5 (or more) to local animal shelters or rescue organizations in her name, or if possible to adopt a shelter pet.

The five-time Emmy Award winner and Television Hall of Famer famously championed care and love for all animals.

“Both my mother and father were tremendous animal lovers,” she told Smithsonian Magazine in 2012. “They imbued in me the fact that, to me, there isn’t an animal on the planet that I don’t find fascinating and want to learn more about.”

That year, she authored the book, “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.”

Just last month, Ray Richmond’s biographical celebration “Betty White: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life” was published.

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