Betty White's agent shoots down claims she died after receiving vaccine booster — plus her final word revealed
Betty White's death on Dec. 31 was due to natural causes, not a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. Speaking to People on Jan. 3, the late comedy star's longtime friend and agent, Jeff Witjas, confirmed that her cause of death had nothing to do with a booster. "Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home. People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes," he told the outlet. "Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived," he added. Later on Jan. 3, "Mama's Family" star Vicki Lawrence — who worked with Betty on the show — told Page Six bittersweet story about Betty's final moments. Vicki said she reached out to mutual friend Carol Burnett after hearing news of Betty's death. "I texted Carol and said, 'This just sucks. I hate this. It's just horrible to see the people you love so much go away,'" Vicki shared. "Carol wrote back and said, 'I know, I know. I spoke to Betty's assistant, who was with her when she passed, and she said the very last word out of her mouth was 'Allen'" — the name of Betty's late third husband, "Password" host Allen Ludden, who died from stomach cancer in 1981. "How sweet is that?" Vicki added. "I said, 'That is so sweet. God, I hope that's true. For all of us, I really hope it's true, a lovely thought.'"
Hilary Duff mom-shamed over car seat
Hilary Duff's holiday weekend ended in a storm of mom-shaming after her friend and "Younger" co-star Molly Bernard shared a video of Hilary's 3-year-old daughter in the back of a moving car without a car seat. The otherwise sweet video showed Banks adorably trying to say the words, "I'm drop dead gorgeous." But it didn't take long for users to jump on Hilary and Molly in the comments for what they deemed to be an unsafe ride for the toddler. "Where's her car seat??? This is irresponsible!!! She is 3 and needs to be in a car seat or booster!" one person wrote. "She is so cute!!!!! But why is she not in a car seat, it is the law for a child her age," wrote another, referencing California's mandate that kids under 8 who are a certain height require a "belt-positioning booster seat or car seat," in which Banks didn't appear to be sitting. "She could be in a booster and y'all don't see it," another person suggested, adding, "She's safe alive and still cute." Hilary's no stranger to the world of mommy-shaming, though. She was criticized harshly on social media for having her daughter's ears pierced when she was still a baby. Asked how she deals with the negativity when she encounters it, Hilary told Yahoo earlier this year, "It's hard not to take it personal, so I really have to zoom out. At first I want to be defensive, but when I zoom out, I'm like, 'It's one person. That's not how everybody feels. That doesn't really matter. That person's, like, a keyboard gangster who just needs to be heard or seen.'"
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Alec Baldwin addresses 'Rust' shooting: 'No one wants the truth more than I do'
On New Year's Day, Alec Baldwin shared a long and emotional video on Instagram, where he reflected on the "Rust" set shooting and thanked those who've shown him compassion in the wake of Halyna Hutchins' death. "Another chance to let go of anything that is hurting us. Destroying us," he captioned the post. The video opens with Alec sharing a story about a woman who recently wrote him a note of support on a Splenda packet she handed him when he was out to lunch. "I've had more people who have been kind and thoughtful and generous of spirit than I've had people who are malignant about the death Halyna Hutchins," he said to the camera. "I'm not afraid to say that and to couch that in some euphemisms … somebody died very tragically," he continued. "And I've gotten so much, I mean so much, goodwill from people. It's just incredible." He went on to call the shooting — which took place after he was handed a prop gun he'd been told had no live rounds — "the worst situation I've ever been involved with." As for the ongoing investigation into how real bullets ended up in the gun, Alec said, "I'm very hopeful that the people in charge with investigating this whole thing get to the truth as soon as possible. No one wants the truth more than I do."
RELATED: Stars we lost in 2021
Whoopi Goldberg tests positive for COVID-19
The hosts of "The View" appeared remotely from their homes on Jan. 3 after Whoopi Goldberg tested positive for COVID-19. "As you can see we're back in boxes and doing the show remotely," Joy Behar announced, according to People. She added that while she hoped the remote broadcast would be temporary, "you never know because this omicron thing is all over the place." Joy then revealed "Whoopi, unfortunately, tested positive over the break," saying they expected her to return next week. "Since she's vaxxed and boosted, her symptoms have been very, very, mild. But we're being super cautious here at 'The View,'" Joy explained. And it turns out Whoopi wasn't the only member of the show's family who tested positive. Sunny Hostin said she and her mom had positive tests during the holidays as well and were forced to isolate during Christmas. Last year around this time, her husband Manny's parents died of COVID-19 complications on Dec. 28 and Jan. 1.
Kristen Bell celebrates 'growing' with husband Dax Shepard in sweet birthday post
In a swoon-worthy birthday note on Instagram over the weekend, Kristen Bell reminded her husband, Dax Shepard, just how much she loves him. Addressing the post, "To the greatest husband and #dadbeast I could ever imagine," Kristen told the 47-year-old birthday boy: "Laughing, snuggling and growing with you has been more enjoyable than anything I could have ever imagined for my life. Your patience and commitment with our daughters is only bested by your patience and commitment with the hiccups." Alongside pics of Dax with Kristen, 41, and their daughters, Kristen added, "None of us deserve you. You are singular. Happy birthday, stud. ❤️🎊😍." Dax, who married "The Good Place" star in 2013, replied in the comments with a long row of red heart emojis. He turned 47 on Jan. 2.
Janet Jackson opens up about the darker sides of fame in new doc
A new documentary about Janet Jackson shows fans "a side that no one's ever seen," the singer says in a new trailer for "Janet" that premiered Jan. 3. The teaser clip also features Ciara and Janelle Monae reflecting on the 55-year-old's longevity and influence, as well as the complications she and her brother, Michael Jackson, faced as a result of their early celebrity status in music. "There's a great deal of scrutiny that comes with having that last name. Guilty by association. I guess that's what they call it, right?" Janet says at one point. Against the backdrop of images from her infamous 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance with Justin Timberlake, Janet explains, "They build you up and then once you get there, they're so quick to tear you down." "Janet" premieres on Lifetime and A&E on Jan. 28.
Keanu Reeves reportedly donated 70% of his 'The Matrix' salary to cancer research
File this one under "more things to love about Keanu." According to LadBible.com, Keanu Reeves donated "about 70%" of the rumored $45 million he made for 1999's "The Matrix" to leukemia research. Keanu's sister, Kim, was reportedly still battling the blood cancer when the film came out, after being diagnosed in 1991. After many years of treatment, Kim went into remission in 2001, but Keanu's contributions to cancer research have continued, both through his private foundation and various donations, though he tends not to attach his name to those, according to Wikipedia. Keanu, 57, just reprised his role as Neo in the fourth installment of "The Matrix," "The Matrix Resurrections." He recently said he believes it will be the final film in the series, joking to EmpireOnline.com, "What's another one? 'Resurrections Redux?'"
'Anchorman' star David Koechner arrested on New Year's Eve
David Koechner, who played Champ in "Anchorman," spent New Year's Eve in police custody. The actor, 59, was arrested in Simi Valley, California, on Dec. 31 for a suspected DUI involving a hit-and-run, according to TMZ, which also claims he hit a street sign with his car prior to his arrest. Authorities reportedly had a tip about an "erratic driver" before the arrest. People magazine later confirmed David was released around 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 and is due in court on March 30. In the meantime, he continues to star in "National Champions" and perform stand-up on tour across the country.