The Truth About Betty White's Love Life

Actress Betty White was born on January 17, 1922, and started her career right after she graduated from high school in 1939. She became a model, a theater actress, and also worked on the radio. She was always interested in entertainment, but it wasn't until the 1950s when she got her first television series. White produced and starred in the sitcom "Life With Elizabeth," which aired from 1953 to 1955. She is most famous for her roles in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Golden Girls," which propelled her to stardom (via The Things).

Just like her professional career, her personal life — particularly her love life — was also colorful. White married her first husband at 23 years old. The young man was named Dick Barker, a U.S. Army pilot who she met at a recreation hall. The couple married in 1942, but their marriage was a short six months. Barker spent most of his time overseas for work, and White lived in an Ohio chicken farm where she had a difficult time adjusting to the rural life. In an interview with the American Association of Retired Persons, White revealed her reason for marrying Barker. "I married my first because we wanted to sleep together. It lasted six months, and we were in bed for six months," she said.

Betty White and Lane Allen's relationship

Betty White met her second husband, Lane Allen, while they were both pursuing their acting careers. Allen also worked as a casting agent back then. After dating for some time, the couple married in 1947, but they soon discovered that they had different goals in life. Allen wanted White to quit her acting career and be a stay-at-home wife and mother to their future children. Although White was in love with Allen, she couldn't let go of her dreams as an actress. In addition, per The Things, White didn't want to have children.

The differences in their opinions put a strain on their marriage. In the end, White chose her career over Allen, and they ended their union after two years. "He wanted me to get out of show business — a deal breaker," White revealed (via American Association of Retired Persons). For the second time, White's love life ended in divorce, and she had apprehensions about entering another serious relationship.

Allen Ludden was persistent in marrying Betty White

In 1961, Betty White appeared in a game show titled "Password." Allen Ludden was the host of the show, and White found him "very nice and very attractive." Ludden, however, was a married man, but that changed the same week of White's appearance on the show when he became a widower. His wife died of cancer, and he was left to raise three children alone, as reported by Nine. In 1962, Ludden and White met again while working together in the play "Critic's Choice." It was during that time when they formed a friendship.

Ludden started courting White even though she was in a relationship with another man. She recalled Ludden bringing his children along and proposing marriage, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. "He brought his three kids, and they all started courting me along with Allen. He didn't ever say good morning or hello, it was, 'will you marry me'?" White rebuffed his advances. After a while, though, the man she was dating made her realize that she loved Ludden. Her boyfriend accused her of being in love with him, which White vehemently denied. "You are in love with that man; you might as well admit it ... Why don't you just relax. I see it in your eyes," her boyfriend said.

Betty White and Allen Ludden's lasting love

Betty White and Allen Ludden had a long-distance courtship, with the actress staying in California and Ludden in New York. He was adamant, however, and wanted to make her his wife. White fell for Ludden, but she was still apprehensive about getting married, as she already had two failed marriages. In fact, it took a couple of tries before White accepted his marriage proposal. On the third proposal, Ludden sent the actress a stuffed bunny with a pair of earrings. The card that accompanied it simply read, "Please say yes," per Nine. That night, White said "yes" in a phone call.

The couple married in 1963 in Las Vegas, and together they raised Ludden's three children. In 1980, Ludden was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, and he died the following year at 59 years old. The couple was married for 18 years before his death, and White called him the love of his life. The only regret that she had, she said in an interview with Oprah, was that she didn't accept Ludden's marriage proposal right away. "I spent a whole year, wasted a whole year that Allen and I could have had together ... I wasted a whole year we could have had together," she stated. When asked whether why she didn't marry after Ludden's death, she answered, "When you've had the best, who needs the rest?" (via CBS News).