Betty White died Dec. 31, 2021 — six days after suffering a stroke

I adored Betty White. She made me laugh even when tears were closer. And we had a unique connection, although she knew nothing about it.

She wore my dress.

On the first episode of “The Golden Girls.” September 1985.

It was a light denim shirtwaist with roll-up sleeves and a pink stretch belt with a tan leather, buckled closure. It made an ongoing, brief appearance in each episode for seven years. During the “Thank You for Being my Friend” introduction.

This was not a good thing.

The dress was spot-on for her Rose Nylund character, but her wearing it on national television forced me to face a truth about myself. My fashion sense was decades ahead of my age.

When my dress made its television debut, Rose was a 60-ish widow with grown children. I was a married 32-year-old with an infant son and a four-year-old daughter. I was a few months postpartum and dressed like a postmenopausal television character.

Betty White lived a full life in which she reinvented herself many times.

My clothing choice made its way from my closet to the small screen way before the Internet gremlins could read my thoughts and transmit them as Facebook posts, pop-up ads on my phone or prime-time television storylines. And way before Google searches. I didn’t see the dress on TV and then try to track it down for myself. I owned it before its television debut.

I can’t tell you for sure that her dress bore the exact label as mine, but it looked close enough to be pulled from the same rack. Hers probably in a smaller size.

Don Landgren cartoon on #bettywhitechallenge

Who wore it better? Definitely, Betty White.

Was I a Golden Girl before my time? Or was Betty White still young at 63? I think she would have gotten a laugh out of my dilemma and answered yes to both.

I grew up watching her on TV game shows. “Password” was my favorite. Later, it was in iconic television sitcoms, variety and talk show appearances and her movie career (more about that later).

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