A Love of a Lifetime

During the Golden Girls’ seven year stretch Rose Nylund had few romances.  Rose’s one true love undoubtedly was her husband Charlie!  It took a long time and few short romances and some crazy dates in between, but she finally met and fell in love with Miles Webber.  Similar to Rose, Betty White had to go through two short lived marriages before she finally met and fell in love with her love of a lifetime!

In 1961, an already accomplished actress and comedian, Betty White was a celebrity guest on the game show Password hosted by Allen Ludden.  Their first date was chaperoned by both of their agents, but they reportedly fell in love while performing in the play Critic’s Choice in August of 1962.  Allen must have been head of heels in love with Betty, proposing several times before she finally said yes!  While waiting for Betty to finally agree to be his bride, Allen wore the ring he had purchased for her around his neck.  Betty finally said yes when he had sent her a cute little stuffed bunny!  But I suppose that’s Betty for you…always the animal lover!

Betty and Allen exchanged their vows on June 14, 1963 at Sands Hotel Casino in Las Vegas with Allen’s three children from his first marriage and Betty’s parents in attendance.  After the ceremony the couple enjoyed a short honeymoon in Laguna Beach in California.

The couple enjoyed a happy marriage where “they became a team, as well as lovers and ‘each other’s critic, editor, fan and friend’”.  Together they appeared on The Odd Couple when Oscar and Felix appeared on Password.  Allen was a guest panelist on The Match Game with Betty in the audience and later the couple appeared together as panelists in 1974, 1975 and 1980.

Sadly, things took a turn for the worse when Allen Ludden was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1979.  The couple chose to keep Allen’s illness private until the very end.  Betty continued to work and together they continued working on building their dream home in Carmel, California.

But time was quickly drawing to a close for Allen.  Just three days after moving into their dream home and three days short of Allen and Betty’s 18th wedding anniversary, on June 9, 1981 Allen Ludden lost his life to stomach cancer.  He is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Wisconsin. It was Betty herself who cared for an ailing Allen Ludden.

Of her relationship and marriage to Allen Ludden, Betty had this to say: “Life does not come equipped with an instruction manual, and neither does death. Allen and I had worked together on and off during almost eighteen years of marriage, but in our private life we were always very much a team. As well as lovers, we were each other’s critic, editor, fan and friend. While we had had two long years to get used to the idea, when he died I was shattered. My first instinct was to crawl away somewhere to mourn in private, and to some extent I suppose I did….”
(Source: Jack Canfield. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul: Stories About Pets as Teachers, Healers, Heroes and Friends. 1998. pg. 73.)

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