Betty White is an American actress, comedian, TV/Radio personality, author and animal rights activist. With a show business career that spans over 7 decades, White holds the Guinness World Record for the longest television career for a female entertainer.
She was known back in the days for such shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls”. In recent years, White has managed to keep up with the activities in Hollywood. Continue reading to learn more about her journey.
Betty White’s Biography
Betty Marion White Ludden was born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. Born in the era when life wasn’t particularly easy, Betty had to overcome world-shaking events like The Great Depression and The Second World War. In an effort to survive the former, her family moved to California when she was just two years old. While attending Beverly Hills High School, Betty, began writing and soon fell in love with drama. As a result, she aspired to become a professional actress.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have it easy in her early days as she was rejected severally by directors for not being photogenic enough. Undeterred, Betty dabbled in radio where she landed commercial jobs and earned $5 per show. She soon landed her own eponymous radio show which helped her launch a TV career. In 1951, she appeared as co-host alongside Al Jarvis on his KLAC-TV variety talk show, “Hollywood on Television.”
A year later (1952), White produced and starred as the lead in the TV series “Life with Elizabeth” which enjoyed much success and entered into syndication from 1952 to 1955. Her next successful TV role was in “Date with the Angels”.
TV Break With “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
Throughout the 1960s, Betty made guest appearances on various talk and game shows such as “Password”. She also hosted countless parades such as the 1964 Tournament of Red Roses in Pasadena, California. In 1962 she made her feature film debut in “Advise & Consent”.
Her big break, one which she has described as one of the “highlights of her professional career” came in CBS sitcom, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. Betty had appeared as a guest on the 4th season before her sardonic, man-hungry character of Sue Ann Nivens was made regular. The series ran for 3 more successful seasons, earning Betty 2 back-to-back Emmy Awards.
After her 19-year Tournament Parade hosting duties came to an end, Betty was chosen to host the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for CBS. A role she held on to for 10 years.
Her next major TV role was as Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls”. The show which followed the lives of four retired elderly women became an instant hit. 6 of its 7 seasons were ranked among the top ten highest-rated programs. It ran for 7 seasons and 180 episodes from 1985 to 1992. For the first season, Betty won an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, a category she was nominated for until the show’s end in 1992.
After Golden Girls came to a successful end, Betty continued to land guest appearances on numerous shows. She earned another Emmy Award for appearing as herself on “The John Larroquette Show” in 1996.
In the new millennium, Betty landed recurring roles in “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Boston Legal”.
Her popularity which seemed to have waned was revived in 2009; thanks to the supporting role of Grandma Annie in the hugely successful romcom “The Proposal” (2009) which also starred Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. The next year, 2010, came with much more success. Following a Facebook Campaign entitled “Betty White to Host SNL (Please)”, Betty, 88, became the oldest person to host the Saturday Night Live. Before this feat, she had earlier appeared in a Super Bowl XLIV ad commercial for Snickers which became hugely popular and topped the “USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter”.
Still, in 2010, White landed a role in the sitcom, “Hot in Cleveland” which ran for 6 seasons ending in 2015. In the penultimate season of the show, she reportedly received $75,000 per episode. The First Lady of Game Shows became the executive producer and host of comedy TV series “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” for which she earned $50,000 per episode.
The nonagenarian animal lover continues to be active in Hollywood producing, hosting and starring in shows. Her bucket list doesn’t even include retirement.
Betty White has a career spanning over 7 decades (70 years) thus putting her estimated net worth at $45 million. This is made possible as she holds the record for being the longest working female on Tv. This figure is not hard to believe as she literally is the first woman to host her own talk show as well as produce many. Before Tv, she made money through singing after which she moved on to feature films. How many 95-year-olds do you know still working strongly in showbiz? Literally, none. Isn’t she just wonderful?
Betty White’s Family, Husband and Children
It is interesting to note that Betty has been married 3 times. She and her first husband, Dick Barker got married in 1945 but divorced just after a year. Betty revealed that after she spent four months in Barker’s rural home in Ohio on a chicken farm, she got tired of the life there. Therefore, she took a flight back to Los Angeles and returned to her life in entertainment.
A few years later, precisely 1947, she happened to cross paths with then agent, Lane Allen whom she dated and got married to. Two years later, it was announced that the pair were getting a divorce. It is believed that Betty loved Lane so much and, that it was his desire and quest for her to quit showbiz and live a more conservative life as a housewife that made the marriage fail. According to Betty, acting was her calling and she was extremely passionate about showbiz. Thus, the marriage couldn’t work.
After two failed marriages she really didn’t have marriage on her mind any longer. Fortunately and unexpectedly, Betty found love again in the arms of her third and final husband, Allen Ludden who at the time, was a widower, father to three kids and a game show host. The pair got married in 1963. Sadly, Allen passed away in 1981 due to complications from stomach cancer. White stated in an interview that one of her greatest regrets was not spending more time with him. She wished she married him one year earlier when he first proposed to her.
Meanwhile, Betty was never able to have any biological kids of her own. However, through her marriage to Allen Ludden, she says it has thoroughly been a blessing to be a stepmother to three beautiful kids (David, Sarah and Martha Ludden) who lost their mother at an early age.
In may 2017, social media was hit with the news that veteran Betty White died peacefully in her Los Angeles home. This prompted lots of condolence messages from ardent fans who admire the celebrity a great deal. However, it soon emerged that the death story was a hoax. Betty’s agent, Jeff Witjas debunked the news stating that the star was alive and well.