Facts about Betty White
Betty White Biography
Betty White was a steady TV presence from the early 1950s almost until her death in 2021. She’s best remembered for two popular roles: as Sue Ann Nivens in the 1970s hit The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as Rose Nyland in the 1980s hit The Golden Girls.
Betty White grew up in Los Angeles and got her start there on radio and television. Her locally-produced comedy show Life with Elizabeth was developed into a national TV series and ran from 1953 to 1955. Over the following years she took dozens of guest roles on TV, both as a comic actress and as a hostess/panelist on TV game shows.
White won two Emmys on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Sue Ann Nivens, a man-hungry TV hostess whose acid barbs were (barely) dipped in honey. She was on the show from 1973 to 1977. Her next series, The Betty White Show (1977-78) and Mama’s Family (1983-85) were short-lived, but White could still be seen on shows like The Love Boat (1980-85), and as a regular in game shows such as Liar’s Club (1976-78), Match Game PM (1975-82) and Just Men (1983). She won another Emmy on The Golden Girls (1985-92) as Rose Nyland, a guileless scatterbrain among a group of cheery, ribald older women.
It was on a game show that she met her third husband, Password host Allen Ludden. Ludden and White were married from 1963 until his death in 1981, and together they became known for their work in charities that supported animals and pets, especially the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA).
A new young audience discovered Betty White in the 2010s. She appeared in a popular commercial for Snickers candy that debuted during the Super Bowl, and a fan-based Facebook campaign led to White hosting Saturday Night Live, a gig that earned her another Emmy Award. She also starred in another sitcom, the cable series Hot in Cleveland, from 2010-15. She turned 93 the year that series ended, and by then her indefatigable longevity had made her a beloved Hollywood icon.
Betty White was married three times: to Richard “Dick” Barker (married in 1945, divorced the same year); to Lane Allen (from 1947 until their divorce in 1949); and to Allen Ludden (from 1963 until his death in 1981). She had no children, although she was a stepmother to Ludden’s three children from a previous marriage.