The Moment Betty White Decided to Marry Allen Ludden

Betty White was married to her husband, Allen Ludden, for almost two decades. White says her relationship with Ludden was the best one she had in her life. From the moment they met, it was clear there was something special developing between them. Here’s when The Golden Girls star decided to marry her late husband.

How Betty White and Allen Ludden met

Betty White in a white blazer
Betty White | Amanda Edwards/WireImage

White and Ludden met in 1961 while she was a guest on his game show, Password. White says she and Ludden clicked right away. White and Ludden met again that summer while recording a television special. She tells the Archive of American Television she and Ludden became “instant friends.” Ludden’s children also seemed to take a liking to her. (Ludden’s wife, who had cancer, died during the week of White’s gameshow appearance.)

By the third week of White and Ludden’s time on the TV special, Ludden began asking White if she would marry him. White says it was a joke at first, but his question became serious. Ludden continued to propose to White for a year. One day, Ludden bought a wedding ring and told White to wear it.

“He bought a beautiful gold wedding ring with diamonds all around it. And one night at dinner, he gave it to me said, ‘You might as well take it because you’re going to put it on one day.’”

White told him she wouldn’t marry him, and she gave the ring back. She says part of the reason she kept declining his proposal was because she was scared to move from California to New York. Ludden wouldn’t give up. He put the wedding ring on a chain around his neck, and he wore it so that White would be reminded of his proposal.  

The moment Betty White decided to marry Allen Ludden

By Easter, Ludden was still pursuing White. She says he sent her a stuffed bunny with diamond and sapphire earrings. When Ludden called her that night, she immediately said ‘yes,’ and accepted his proposal. She says Ludden joked with her that she only agreed to marry him for the stuffed bunny. She joked the only reason she married him was because he had two poodle puppies. (White is a big animal lover and animal rights activist.)

Although White went on to marry Ludden and have a beautiful marriage, she has regrets. “I came to the point of regretting that year that I wasted saying, ‘no,’” says White. “I would have given anything to have it back. It was a love affair. We missed 18 years by three days, but it was still a honeymoon.”

Betty White’s romantic relationships

Before marrying Ludden, White was married to Dick Barker (1945) and Lane Allen (1947 to 1949). White and Ludden were married in 1963 and stayed together until his death in 1981. Back in 2012, White jokingly told Piers Morgan her first two marriages were “rehearsals.” White tells Morgan that Ludden was the love of her life. When he asks her what true love is, White immediately responds, “Allen Ludden.”

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