On January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, Betty Marion White entered the world. Betty’s family uprooted to California when she was just a baby. To better his family’s financial situation during the Great Depression, her father moved the family to Los Angeles, where he sold crystal radios and bartered them for food and other necessities.
Betty White had a deep love for nature throughout her time as a high school student. She had intended to be a park ranger at one point, but she eventually gave up on the idea because women weren’t permitted to hold that position at the time. Instead, she took to writing constantly and even wrote and starred in her play during her high school’s dramatics club’s senior year. The experience fueled her desire to become an actress, and she found motivation from the work of established performers like Jeanette MacDonald.
The year Betty White completed high school was 1939, the same year that World War II began. While it took years for the United States to join the war effort, White had no trouble finding work in the entertainment industry after graduating high school. Sadly, the war eventually caught up with the United States, and White’s acting career was derailed when she chose to serve her nation instead of continuing to pursue her acting career. She helped move military supplies across the state of California as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Service.
Betty White attempted her hand at the Hollywood film industry after World War II, but she was rejected by every major company. She tried her hand at modeling but was informed she lacked the “photogenic” factor, so she went into radio instead. White became a popular radio artist who was soon paid well and featured on prominent shows of the era. She became so popular that she was offered her radio program, The Betty White Show.
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As a co-host of Al Jarvis‘s Hollywood on Television in 1949, Betty White first gained widespread attention in the industry. Betty White took over as the regular host after Jarvis left in 1952, performing six times a week and often breaking into song during her improvised shows. Her performances earned her a nomination for an Emmy, even though she was still a relative newbie to the television industry.
With the aid of a writer and a producer, Betty White founded her own production company in 1952. Betty White starred in a later series with the same name under the Bandy Productions label. In 1953, when the show first aired, Betty White was the only creative force behind the show’s national syndication.
After her breakthrough, Betty White made cameos in many ads. She signed a contract with NBC in 1954 to produce her talk show, titled simply The Betty White Show. Again, she was in charge of all aspects of production, and she made some incredibly forward-thinking choices including casting a female director and featuring a frequently appearing African-American performer. Viewership problems led to the show’s early cancellation.
After that, White landed a role in the sitcom Date with the Angels, which was one of the worst of her career. After the show’s cancellation in 1958, White made an appearance in a play the following year. When the ’60s rolled around, Betty White was a regular on game programs. Her early performances on game shows included Password and subsequent series like Pyramid, What’s My Line?, and I’ve Got a Secret. With Advise & Consent, she also landed her first role in a full-length motion picture.
White made her debut on the hugely successful Mary Tyler Moore Show in that decade. Betty White had already won three Emmys by the time her series ended. White was offered her series after The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended. The Betty White Program was the fourth talk show hosted by White, but like the others, it lasted only one season before being axed.
Betty White became known as “The First Lady of Game Shows” in the 1980s thanks to her work as a host on shows like Just Men! She also had acting roles in sitcoms like “Mama’s Family” during this time. White’s appearance as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls was a watershed moment in her career. Betty White received yet another Emmy for her portrayal of this character, and it remains the role for which she is best known.
After The Golden Girls ended in the early ’90s, White went on to appear in other shows like Yes, Dear and Suddenly Susan. White had roles in popular shows like Boston Legal and The Practice in the 2000s. After a fan campaign on Facebook, White hosted SNL in 2010 at the age of 58, making her the oldest person to do so. She also had a part on the show Hot in Cleveland the same year. Reports stated that White was paid $75,000 for every episode of Hot in Cleveland.
Betty White hosted and executive produced the show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which featured the elderly pulling pranks on the young, from 2012 to 2014. NBC aired a special in 2012 celebrating White’s 90th birthday, titled Betty White’s 90th Birthday. She voiced “Bitey White,” a stuffed tiger, in Toy Story 4, which will be released in 2019.
Before marrying game show host Allen Ludden in 1961, Betty White had previously married twice, both times ending in divorce. After dating for two years, they finally tied the knot. White did not remarry after Ludden’s death from stomach cancer in 1981. As Ludden’s first wife had also passed away from cancer in 1961, she took on the role of stepmother to his three children from a previous marriage.
Betty and Allen Ludden purchased a piece of land in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, for $170,000 in 1978. They built a magnificent mansion of 3,700 square feet, complete with four bedrooms and breathtaking seaside views. Completed in 1981, the building had been under construction for a decade. Allen passed away suddenly just days after they moved in, which was a terrible shock. Betty kept the house as her own forever.
Betty’s heirs listed the house for sale at just under $8 million in March of 2022. After a month on the market and a brief bidding war, the mansion was sold for $10.775 million. The Brentwood residence in Los Angeles was another one of Betty’s properties. In 1968, five years after their wedding, Betty and Allen Ludden purchased this house. This home was put up for sale by her estate in April 2022 for $10.575 million. A month later, it was sold for just under $10.7 million.
Betty White, an actress, comedian, novelist, and TV personality from Illinois passed away in 2014 with a $75 million fortune. Betty White had a long and distinguished career in the entertainment industry, earning her a place in the pantheon of the industry’s most influential forebears. She was the longest-standing television entertainer of all time, with a career spanning more than eight decades. She was also well-received in the film industry, demonstrating her versatility and a wide range throughout her long and fruitful career. Betty White died at home on December 31, 2021, a few months short of her 100th birthday.