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Rare Betty White artifacts donated to National Comedy Center

Most of the collection includes pieces from White’s award-winning work in acclaimed TV comedies The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland.

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — The National Comedy Center announced Wednesday on the 37th anniversary of "The Golden Girls" television debut that it received rare artifacts, wardrobes, and awards from the estate of comedy legend and actress Betty White.

The United States’ official cultural institution dedicated the historic artifacts and the collections will become part of its permanent archives.

“We are delighted to donate these important pieces from Betty White’s career to the National Comedy Center, the nation’s official home for the celebration and preservation of comedy,” Glenn Kaplan, who represents the Betty White Estate, said in a statement.

“Betty was so wonderfully gifted as an actress and comedienne. She loved to make us all laugh for nearly one hundred years, and she believed wholeheartedly in the power of comedy to entertain, to open our minds, and to change the world. Now her work is on exhibit side-by-side with her dear friends and fellow artists, including Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, and so many others.

"We know that she would have been thrilled to be included in the National Comedy Center, and we hope her fans will visit to remember our beloved Betty and pay tribute to her extraordinary legacy.

According to the news release, most of the collection includes pieces from White’s award-winning work in acclaimed TV comedies such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Golden Girls," and "Hot in Cleveland."

“Betty White has had a remarkable impact on the world of comedy. She brought laughter to millions and made it look effortless, when in fact, she was a true master of the art form,” National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson said in a statement.

“Betty’s story and her body of work have united, entertained, and inspired generations of fans and her performances are infused with a genuine love for the comedic craft.

"Her story is a remarkable one, not least because of the unerring grace and resilience she modeled as an artist navigating an evolving entertainment industry across seven decades – never losing relevancy and never failing to reinvent herself and her work to meet the moment. We are truly honored to celebrate Betty White in our galleries and to preserve her materials for generations to come.”

The comedy center said the collection donated features scripts hand-annotated by Betty White, plus several articles of Betty White’s screen-used wardrobe now on display – including a Rose Nylund sweater, an Elka Ostrovsky tracksuit from "Hot in Cleveland," and a gown worn by White at the 1986 Emmy Awards ceremony, plus five Emmy statuettes for wins spanning nearly 60 years, including "Life with Elizabeth" in 1952, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in 1975 and 1976, "The Golden Girls" in 1986, and as guest host of "Saturday Night Live" in 2010.

The collection also features career memorabilia, including the sweater White wore in her iconic Superbowl XLV commercial and a Guinness World Record certificate for “Longest TV Career by a Female Entertainer.”

Whit's close friends and colleagues also commented on the announcement:

"Betty would have been thrilled to be celebrated at the National Comedy Center, not only because it's the official museum for comedy but because it's located in her dear friend Lucille Ball's hometown and based on Lucy's vision. It was one of the honors of my life to have both Betty and Lucy as close friends and cherished mentors and to have worked so closely with them through the years. Now their legacies are preserved, side by side, for generations to come, which makes me very happy. We all miss them both dearly but their comedy is timeless," Carol Burnett said.

Added Jennifer Love Hewitt: "Betty White was truly a national treasure. I want to congratulate the National Comedy Center for honoring my friend with this wonderful tribute. I know that it would have meant so much to her. I hope she is somewhere celebrating this honor too -- hopefully with her husband Allen, having a hot dog, a slice of pizza, a few gummy bears, and some vodka."

White died on Dec, 31, 2021, just 17 days before her 100th birthday.

The collection is now on display at the National Comedy Center.

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