Betty White's Agent Jeff Witjas Looks Back on Her Final Days, Shuts Down Rumors About Her Death (Exclusive)

Witjas talks to ET about the Hollywood icon's last days and rumors she died after getting a COVID-19 booster shot.

Betty White touched many people's hearts, including that of her agent, Jeff Witjas. The two had an "incredible" relationship, with Witjas first representing the Hollywood icon when she was in her early 80s, "which is rare in our industry," he tells ET's Kevin Frazier. Witjas takes a look back on White's final days and shuts down rumors about her death.

White died on Dec. 31 at the age of 99. Rumors circulated that she died after getting a COVID-19 booster, which Witjas denies.

"I can absolutely, 100 percent say, Betty did not pass because of the booster, she did not pass because of COVID, she never had COVID," he states. "She passed, with my understanding, of natural causes. Being 99 years old, unfortunately, you know. But there was no outside disease. Betty was a healthy, healthy lady and for those who are trying to start a political conversation about vaccines with Betty White, don't. It's not true. Betty never had the booster, and that is really it. Period."

Other rumors include that she was going to get a dress made for her, but was unable since her health was declining.

"It's funny, I hadn't heard that one but Betty was never really into having someone make clothes for her. Betty had her style of clothes," he shares. "All the pictures will depict that, it was just her style. And there was a dress made for her for one of the award shows, beautiful dress, she wore it, liked it, but she was more comfortable in her own clothes. So I never heard that anybody was gonna make clothes for her. The declining health, I don't think necessarily that Betty was in declining health. She was a little frail. She wasn't going to run the mile, you know?"

"But she was basically healthy," he stresses. "I was over there at the house a number of times and we enjoyed playing gin rummy together. Now I will say, her mind was sharp, her mind was always sharp, and she ticked me off really because she beat me four times…Somebody who is in declining health wouldn't be able to play gin rummy, honestly, and especially beat me four times. And as I was leaving, she promised me a rematch. That's the only thing we're not going to have. But at least she knows, as I left, she beat me, because we had a very fun, competitive gin rummy game."

Reflecting on White's final days, Witjas says, "She really is a homebody, so towards the end of her life, she spent most of her life at home, almost all of it. She was very comfortable. It was her home."

Witjas adds that she "never left the house for, I would say, at least two years," he says amid the pandemic. "She was under doctor's care, not because she had any illnesses, just because of COVID. Everyone, the doctor, wanted to be very careful that no one would come into the home either without vaccination or even with vaccinations, the doctor was very careful."

And while she "loved people" and spending time with others, Witjas notes "she loved her home." "She was in her surroundings, she lived there for many years, she read, she probably watched television," he says. "Yes, it probably was a bit hard not being with the people that she knew, but there are a lot of people in this world, unfortunately because of COVID, had to give up a lot of things. So for Betty's safety, she stayed home."

Witjas, meanwhile, recalls that "Betty never talked a lot about the past." "She was an extremely positive person and if you asked her a certain question she would answer it, but she never dwelled on the past," he reminisces. "The only thing she talked about frequently would be her beloved husband, Allen Ludden. But she loved Mary Tyler Moore dearly, but she didn't say, 'Oh, you remember that show, Jeff, that I was on?' No, she wouldn't go back there to do that."

As for the Golden Girls star's funeral arrangements, Witjas says that they "are being made," adding that "they'll probably be private."

"Everything being done is being followed by her choices," he adds of White's final wishes. "I'm not involved in that part, but she never sat with me and told me, 'Jeff, when I pass, this is what I want.' I didn't want to go there a lot with Betty. We talked, we hit the topic once in a while, but I just couldn't really expect her to pass, to be honest. So I said, why talk about it…I'm sure she had certain wishes, but I did not talk to her about that."

In the meantime, there will still be a 100-year celebration for White. "Yes, that is still happening. That will be discussed, to do something special for the fans, yes," he says about Betty White: A Celebration, in movie theaters nationwide on Jan. 17.

When asked if White understood how much she was loved by all, Witjas says, "I think she had an idea, but I kept cementing it into her, to be honest, because I would get a lot of emails and calls about her and I would tell her, even during the COVID period, I said, 'Betty, I am still getting calls for you for offers, the fans are still clamoring for you. You are loved.'"

"People say about Betty that she is a national treasure. I say she's an international treasure because people all over the world loved her, and she knew," he relays. "I made sure because I did not want to feel during those down days being home that she felt lonely that no one really cared about her anymore. And I would not have that, and I always told the truth to Betty, always."
And while Witjas says that White's "strength" was that "she listened to what people said," her legacy is even greater.

"Her legacy would be bringing people together in many ways because young people, older people, all different races all loved to watch Betty White," he marvels. "You can sit in front of the television and watch whatever she did because it was funny. She never looked at herself too seriously, which is probably a good thing that a lot of us should do. We have to have humor, and that's what she had and she was serious at times. She had thoughts about what was going on in the world, but she kept it to herself and she brought laughter and happiness and a lot of love to a lot of people."

For more on White, see below. 



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