She may have all our hearts but for Betty White, her heart belonged to her third husband, who was her best one.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 24, 2020. It has since been updated.
With her silver hair, dimpled smile, and savage comebacks, veteran American actress Betty White continued to dominate both the cinema halls and your TV screens. But what is more amazing is that she remained active until her demise at age 99. The things she must've seen, the journeys she must've taken, and especially the three great loves she experienced of which, it was her last one - her marriage to her husband of 18 years, Allen Ludden whom she considered the best.
According to Country Living, The Golden Girls actress was married twice before meeting the love of her life, game show host Allen Ludden. In 1945, she first got married to US Army pilot Dick Barker before separating. Then in 1947, she got hitched to Hollywood agent Lane Allen but the couple was divorced in 1949. In a way taking a step back from her second marriage was a good decision not only because it led her to her real love, but because being with him could have kept her from advancing in her career.
In an article by Insider, the Life With Elizabeth star reportedly said, "He didn't want me to be in show business. When you have a calling you have to follow it, so I made the choice, blew the marriage and I've never regretted it."
Betty White met her third husband and game show host, Allen Ludden in 1961 when she appeared as a guest on his game show, Password, according to Southern Living. Though they were quite smitten and in love with each other, the then-39-year-old actress was hesitant to get re-married because, as she told NewsWeek in May 2011, she felt like a “failure” after her two divorces. So the first two times that Ludden proposed to her, she refused. But the host never gave up.
"I kept saying no for a year," White recalled, according to HuffPost, "Finally, Easter came along. He sent me a white stuffed bunny with diamond earrings clipped to its ears and a card that said, 'Please Say Yes?' So when I answered the phone that night, I didn’t say hello, I just said, 'Yes.'"
And that turned out to be the best decision of her life. On June 14, 1963, the couple tied the knot and went on to have 18 glorious years together before Ludden succumbed to stomach cancer in 1981, reported Today. “I had 18 wonderful years with Allen Ludden," White told Piers Morgan in 2012. "The first two were . . . rehearsals."
"Even long after we were married, he’d call me up during the day and ask me out on a date. He’d barbecue a chicken. We’d have a glass of wine, put on a stack of records, and dance. Now, that’s silly for an old married couple—and a far cry from my first marriage, in terms of chickens—but it worked," she said, quoted NewsWeek.
The Annie's Point actress' biggest regret, as the Hollywood star told Oprah Winfrey in 2015 was rejecting Ludden's earlier proposals. "I spent a whole year, wasted a whole year that Allen and I could have had together, saying, 'No, I wouldn't marry him. No, I won't. No, I won't leave California. No, I won't move to New York,'" she told Winfrey. "I wasted a whole year we could have had together."
Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021, just weeks before her 100th birthday.