Betty White is gearing up to celebrate her centennial birthday on Jan. 17!
In this week’s cover story, White tells PEOPLE exclusively how she feels about turning 100 years old. “I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age,” says the veteran actress. “It’s amazing.”
According to White, being “born a cockeyed optimist” is the key to her upbeat nature. “I got it from my mom, and that never changed,” she says. “I always find the positive.”
As for her diet, White jokes: “I try to avoid anything green. I think it’s working.”
White has had a dream career in Hollywood. She had unforgettable roles on The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Later in her career, she had iconic parts on Hot in Cleveland and in the 2009 film The Proposal.
Nowadays, White enjoys a quiet life in Los Angeles playing crossword puzzles snd card games. She also likes to watch animal documentaries, Jeopardy! and sports, particularly golf. White, who is a longtime animal welfare advocate, is also a longtime supporter of the Wildlife Learning Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Actors and Others for Animals.
And her golden legacy still lives on. As part of PEOPLE’s cover story, White’s famous friends share their experiences with the “very funny” actress.
“She’d come on my show, [The Carol Burnett Show], and if there was a tinge of risqué humor in one of our sketches, she’d roll with it and make it even funnier and add a little wink to show that she was thinking of something sexy,” says Carol Burnett. “She’s not a stand-up. She’s not a jokester. It’s the way she can twist a line to get a laugh.”
“Timing isn’t easy in comedy, because you have to navigate other people’s timing. Betty pivots like I have never seen, making it look seamless,” Bullock, 57, says. “The rest of us just remain silent and pray we’re not cut out of the scene.”
Bullock also says she hopes White embraces her birthday “the same way she has celebrated every day of her life with humor, kindness and a vodka on ice, toasting to the fact that she’s a badass who has left us all in the dust.”
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Meanwhile, Reynolds, who has been a fan of White’s “for as long as I can remember,” says, “I heard that scripts for Golden Girls were only 35 pages, which makes sense because so many of the laughs come from Betty simply looking at her castmates.”
Steenburgen, 68, says White “puts out so much light into the world,” but the TV legend “loves to throw her little F-bombs around and does it with this beautifully dimpled smile.”
“It’s not like she’s just a bubbly, joyful person. She wakes up every day and chooses to be that way,” The Good Place alum, 68, adds. “I think she leads a very purposeful life.”
White’s longtime agent and friend, Jeff Witjas, also tells PEOPLE, “Betty lives a life of happiness. She always thinks of others first, and she stays positive no matter what, even when I beat her at our favorite game of gin rummy!”