Betty White Was in ‘Great Spirits’ During Final On-Camera Appearance 10 Days Before Her Death – PEOPLE


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Steven Boettcher, the director of an upcoming film special about Betty White, tells PEOPLE it was the late star's idea to record a personal message for her fans

Betty White's final on-camera appearance was just 10 days before her death. 

The iconic actress died last Friday at age 99, about two weeks before she would have celebrated her centennial year. For the milestone, she had recorded a message for fans to appear in a star-studded film event set to hit theaters on her birthday, titled Betty White: A Celebration

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Steven Boettcher, who produced and directed the special, tells PEOPLE that White was not only in "great spirits" filming her message, but that the recording was also her idea. 

"She was great, she was funny, she was the adorable Betty White we all know and love," he says. "I mean, you see her and you just can't help but love her and she was amazing — just amazing." 

betty white

Betty White

| Credit: getty

"She was really pointed too about talking to the fans and just saying how much love and admiration she has for them, and it's so sincere, she really meant it," he adds. "And this was her idea to do this little video. It was not our idea, so I think that even makes it more special." 

Boettcher also says White was "looking amazing" when she sat down to record the video.

"It's very, very sweet," he says. "She was excited about getting dressed up, too, and getting glammed up." 

Boettcher and his fellow producers previously announced that they were going forward with their plans to release the film on Jan. 17, what would have been White's 100th birthday.

Following her death, there have been some changes to the film, he says. The special was renamed Betty White: A Celebration from Betty White: 100 Years Young and "retooled a little bit to reflect the news," Boettcher notes. 

The film will feature White as well as her various celebrity friends, including Ryan Reynolds, Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Lin Manuel- Miranda, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, Valerie Bertinelli, James Corden, Wendy Malick, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

It will also showcase clips from her long career in Hollywood, from her early role in a 1950's sitcom to Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland and The Proposal

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Boettcher says he had been working with White on the project for the past 10 years and grew close to her during that time. He describes the finished film as "just truly Betty." 

"People getting together and celebrating Betty is really the most important thing and the reason we went forward with it, because Betty would have wanted it," he says. 

Betty White: A Celebration will be in select theaters for one day only on Jan. 17. Fans can buy tickets and find local theaters at

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