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Betty White's Relationship With Ryan Reynolds Explained

If you're reading this, you're probably just as shocked and saddened by the unexpected death of Betty White as the rest of the world. She was a living legend and was weeks away from celebrating her centennial birthday. Her acting career goes back as far as 1945, with her first big break happening in the 1950s as the titular character in "Life with Elizabeth." As good as she was in her previous roles, though, she is best known for playing Rose Nylund in "The Golden Girls," which ran on NBC from 1985 to 1992.

White was charismatic, hilarious, and above all, a monumentally entertaining actor. She had been in Hollywood for so many decades at the time of her passing that she left behind tons of friends, and one of her more surprising friendships was with former costar Ryan Reynolds. He even tweeted out a heartfelt tribute earlier today when he learned of her passing. If you're unaware of how these two bantered back and forth over the years, keep reading. It's one of the most wholesome things you'll see today in the wake of this devastating loss.

Reynolds and White first met while filming The Proposal

In the 2009 romantic comedy "The Proposal," Reynolds plays Andrew Paxton, an unwitting assistant to an overbearing boss named Margaret Tate, played by Sandra Bullock. Things in the movie get interesting when Bullock's character asks him to marry her in order to avoid being deported back to Canada and possibly losing her entire career. Although their marriage starts out as a sham, lovable hijinks ensue when she travels to meet his family. Eventually, the two characters end up truly falling in love in spite of the ruse.

Also starring in the movie is — you guessed it — Betty White. She plays "Gammy Annie," Reynolds' character's hilarious and endearing grandmother. This movie was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two, but Reynolds had admired White for years before they met in person on the set of "The Proposal." In a statement he made to PEOPLE earlier today when asked for comment, he waxed fondly about being a fan of hers for so long that he couldn't remember when his admiration started. He also joked about her being a "typical Capricorn" who was always "snacking on men," which Reynolds (allegedly) had some firsthand experience with.

Did White and Reynolds have a secret May-December romance?

Spoiler alert: no, they did not. But that didn't stop them from pretending that they had a previous fling at some point between filming "The Proposal" and January 2019, when Ryan Reynolds jokingly referred to Betty White as his "ex-girlfriend" in an Instagram post dedicated to wishing her a happy birthday. Anyone and everyone involved in covering entertainment news ate the story up, prodding the actors to keep the ruse going for general amusement. 

Reminiscing over the memory while being interviewed by PEOPLE, White lightheartedly accused Reynolds of not being able to "get over his thing for me" and insisted that despite Reynold's charisma and charm, "Robert Redford is The One." Funnily enough, Redford told ET Online when asked for comment that "I had a crush on her too!" Given the context of the interview, it's possible that this is more of an endearing sentiment and respect for her talent than a lustful crush, but who knows. In that sense, it's safe to assume that basically everyone had their own fan-crush on White too.

Reynolds made it a personal point to wish her a happy birthday for many years

The 2019 joke about the stars being former lovers isn't the only time Ryan Reynolds went out of his way to wish his former costar a happy birthday. Following his 2019 Instagram post, he teamed up with former "The Proposal" costar Sandra Bullock to sing Betty White a very special rendition of "Happy Birthday" in this tweet. The stars go back and forth singing bars of the song, devolving into a contest of who loves White more. Reynolds spins a hilarious yarn in the video about showing up at White's door and hand-delivering flowers while wearing nothing but "black socks and a dozen gold bracelets, just like [White] requested."

The very next year, Reynolds re-uploaded a fake behind-the-scenes video to his YouTube channel as a birthday tribute to his fictional Gammy. The parody was made during the filming of "The Proposal" and features a profanity-laced fake feud between himself and his senior costar. If you want to see sweet, old White talking about herself in the third person, demanding that Reynolds get her a "m*********ing cup of coffee," and then clandestinely flipping her younger costar the bird, it's a video worth watching. Reynolds captioned it with "We made this 12 years ago. Betty White may be turning 99 today but she is 💯the funniest person on the planet. #HappyBirthdayBetty."

It's — literally — a crying shame that it was the last time Reynolds would ever be able to wish his friend a happy birthday. But friends and fans alike will be able to celebrate her life and career next month on what would have been her 100th year on this planet.