The town of her birth will commemorate recently departed screen icon Betty White with a day in her honor.
Vicki Scaman, president of the Village of Oak Park, Illinois, told Newsday she will read a proclamation at a virtual village board meeting Jan. 10 declaring a Betty White Centennial Celebration on Jan. 15. That day outside Oak Park's historic Lake Theatre, Scaman will read the proclamation live in public, a local historian will speak and a giant cake created by the Turano Baking Co. of nearby Berwyn, Illinois, will be served. Comedian Kathy Griffin, who was born and raised in Oak Park, "is going to send in a video of some stories she has of Betty White," Scaman said.
Lourdes Nicholls, senior media strategist of the local weekly newspaper the Wednesday Journal, who originated the idea for the celebration, added that longtime Oak Park resident Cynthia Fee, who sang the theme song "Thank You for Being a Friend" on White's hit sitcom "The Golden Girls," will perform it at the celebration.
Some local businesses plan themed specials. Mickey's Gyros & Ribs will have a $4.79 combo of a hot dog, French fries and Diet Coke, the first two items of which mirror what White had said in Bon Appétit magazine and elsewhere was her preferred lunch.
Television Hall of Famer White, who died New Year's Eve, was born at the town's West Suburban Hospital on Jan. 17, 1922, and moved to Los Angeles as a toddler. The celebration is scheduled for two days before the actual centennial date, which falls on the observed holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, since "we didn't want to be in competition with it," Scaman said.
Meanwhile, White's friend and agent Jeff Witjas told Newsday White would have a private funeral ceremony, which is still being planned. "Arrangements are private which was Betty’s wish. She was not comfortable with people making a fuss over her in life and in death. Betty always thought of the other person first before herself."
He added, "Betty passed peacefully from natural causes in her own bed in the home she loved in Brentwood," a tony Los Angeles neighborhood.
Speaking to ABC News Monday, Witjas lambasted anti-vaxxer falsehoods, saying, "Betty didn't have illnesses. She didn't have anything. People are putting it out there that she had the booster on Dec. 28 and that she had [side] effects. She never had a booster," he said, adding, "They're politicizing her death, and they shouldn't do that, because she wasn't that type of person in life."
'MATCH GAME' MARATHON Beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Game Show Network will an air an eight-hour marathon of the classic game show "Match Game," hosted by Gene Rayburn and featuring White in each episode alongside fellow celebrities including her "Mary Tyler Moore Show" cast mate Ed Asner as well as Richard Dawson, Patty Duke, Eva Gabor, Bernie Kopell, Charles Nelson Reilly and others.