“I Will Try New Hairdos, Etc.”


, , , ,

As Date with the Angels came to an end, Betty wasn’t terribly broken up about it. She wrote in Here We Go Again:

I think I can honestly say that that was the only time I have ever wanted to get out of a show. We were plugging along and surviving—barely—but there was no longer any different spin on it, and as a result the fun was gone.

Betty was still obligated to fulfill her contract, so she created a whole new show, abandoning all the characteristics of Date With the Angels. The revamped program was called The Betty White Show (the third one!). For those keeping track of the various “Betty White Shows,” it’s probably easier to tack the year on than to remember the order. The one in question is thus The Betty White Show (1958).

Betty gave a preview in TV-Radio Life, March 1,1958.

“You Make Me Sound Like a Hooker!”



Daily TV Serials, February 1975

This is a great interview, because the writer let it slip into a Q&A session. Having interviewees’ real answers is more intimate than a summary of what was discussed. Plus, with Betty’s sense of humor, it’s far more entertaining!

There’s something decidedly charming about them not being quite ready for the interview on time (with Betty wielding a pooper-scooper, no less). And they’re both so enthusiastic!

It’s also fun to see the reference to the notorious vaccination question on Tattletales.

Betty’s Birth Certificate



Betty Marion White was very lucky to arrive safely into the world on January 17, 1922. As she wrote in 1987’s Betty White in Person (pages 118-119):

Having one child was not a considered decision on the part of my folks. A month before I was born, my mother was in a bad car accident, and the doctors were forced to patch up her skull fracture before they could worry about the baby. I managed to hang in there, but the question of more children was, by then, academic.

Please observe:

  • Contrary to a popular assumption, Betty’s name was not “Elizabeth.” Betty has said in interviews that her mother wanted to avoid nicknames. She named her “Betty” and immediately began calling her “Bets.”
  • They put Crede’s silver nitrate solution in her eyes to protect them in the event her mother had gonorrhea.
  • Betty was born on a Tuesday evening.
  • Her parents’ residence was listed as being located at 220 Pleasant Street. That would have been this apartment building.

Allen’s Rising Star


, ,

TV Star Parade, April 1967

The only really glaring error in the article is the mention of Allen being born in Mineral Springs, Wisconsin. There is no such place. Allen was born on October 5, 1917 in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Though interesting, the article is so short that it barely glosses over Allen’s interesting life. Many important factors are omitted, such as:

  • The death of his father Elmer Ellsworth when he was not yet two years old and the later remarriage of his mother to Homer Ludden.
  • His college era theatrical work.
  • The success of Mind Your Manners.
  • The success of Password.
  • The death of his first wife, Margaret McGloin Ludden.

Allen and Grant Tinker’s Letterhead


Allen & Grant Tinker were best friends. When Allen was courting Betty, he had Grant & Mary join them for dinner and make observations, which Mary later comically described. The men later joined forces in EllTee Productions. Betty recounted:

Allen had maintained offices in Hollywood but moved Albets Enterprises, Inc., to the Valley when he found office space next door to the MTM lot. This was most convenient, for as well as his on-camera work, he had formed a partnership with Grant. EllTee Productions (for Ludden-Tinker) was to develop new daytime game shows.

Here We Go Again: My Life on Television (2010 revision), page 244.

Allen wrote to thank Betty’s fan club president, Kay Daly, for gifting him with a copy of the 1975 book, “Games of the World.” Because the letter is dated on October 8th, we can assume than it was a present for his birthday on October 5. If that indeed the case, Allen was very prompt with his note!

Allen & Betty in the 1950 Census


Allen & Betty were more than a decade away from meeting in 1950, living on opposite coasts. Betty was with her parents. Allen was with his growing young family.

The 1950 Census is interesting because it includes more people we know. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include as much information as you’ve seen in previous decades’ counts.

Allen lived in West Hartford, Connecticut with Margaret and his two older children. Because the address is not clear, I can’t show you the location yet, but I’ll work on it. Allen is listed as a radio writer, who worked at a radio station. Makes sense!

Betty lived in Los Angeles with her parents at 11444 Ayrshire Road, seen below. At first, I thought the house was newer. But info from the assessor’s office shows that it was built in 1939. I wonder if the owners know or care?

Betty Answers Her 1954 Fan Mail


, , ,

fanclubDuring the summer of 1954, Betty hosted a variety show on NBC called The Betty White Show.  Betty and her crew of nine guys (!) presented musical numbers, read viewer mail, and celebrated “Wish Day,” in which the whole cast showered young guests with presents.

Here’s what a fan named Lydia received in reply when she wrote…

Please click the image see the mailing!

Given the volume of mail she likely received, it’s understandable that she relied on a “Dear Friend” form letter. It’s a nice touch, though, for her to reply to Lydia’s specific questions.

The insert listing the men on Betty’s show is interesting.  Frank DeVol was a well-know composer and arranger, and wrote a number of tv themes, including that of The Brady Bunch.  Arthur Duncan is a tap dancer, who went on to appear as a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show.

Betty was pretty forward-thinking in including Arthur Duncan, an African-American, in the cast.  She noted in her book Here We Go Again the following:

It came as a frightfully ugly surprise, one day, when a few of the stations that carried our show through the South notified us that they would, “with deep regret, find it most difficult to broadcast the program unless Mr. Arthur Duncan was removed from the cast.” I was shocked, and it goes without saying that Arthur continued to perform on our show as often as possible. To its credit, the network backed us up. I was livid — this was 1954, for heaven’s sake! I wanted to tell them what to do with their stations, but wiser heads prevailed. To no one’s surprise, that was the last we ever heard of the matter. They continued to carry us without another word on the subject.

Allen in 1971: Diggin’ California and Posing With His Parents



californiaFrom Daytime TV, November 1971:

Click on the image to download a PDF of the article!

“Why, it’s the most convenient house I’ve ever lived in!”  Allen gives an interview about the move from New York to Los Angeles.  What’s interesting is that this article appears four years after the fact…not exactly a timely angle.

Allen’s love of gardening shows here, with lots of enthusiastic comments on how he can grow things all year long and the trees in the back.  Allen TOTALLY loved to garden.  He was studying landscape architecture at Pierce College when he died.

The picture of Allen & Betty with his parents is especially cool.

Favorite line in the article?  “And Allen has abandoned his crew cut in favor of longer hair.”  There you have it, ladies and gentlemen — Allen Ludden, hippie.

Relax… Betty’s June 1962 Bills are PAID!


, , , ,

billbothTwo little pages, so much information! From the archivist’s personal collection comes this fascinating glimpse into the cost of being Betty in the summer of 1962.

Please click the image see the full document!

Some observations…

  • Ashley-Steiner was Betty’s professional agency. She enclosed with this note her paychecks for June appearances on To Tell the Truth and an episode of US Steel Hour entitled “The Scene of the Crime.” She made about $5700 in today’s dollars for the two appearances.
  • Betty had to pay for own transportation to New York for her TV appearances of this era, hence the bill from her agency for a trip to be taken the next day. You can see that the costs likely offset much of her salary.
  • Bullock’s and I. Magnin were California-based department stores. Girlfriend was probably buying clothes!
  • Poor Betty must have lost one of her beloved pets at the beginning of June, resulting in the vet and pet crematory bills.  🙁
  • Essex House was a luxury hotel in New York. Notice the separate checks four days apart. Betty must have flown back to Los Angeles between the two appearances.
  • Lastly, note the June 14th check for a wig for her appearance in a summer stock production of the play Critic’s Choice. It cost about $1600 in today’s dollars – must have been real human hair.  But it was worth it in the end. Her co-star was none other than Allen Ludden, and he was proposing to her by the end of it!

Betty Dishes on Being Wholesome and Her Dream Man


dreammanFrom TV Stage, December 1954:

Click on the image to download a PDF of the article!

Cover and table of contents say “Betty White’s Dream Man.” The article itself says “Betty White: Call Me Wholesome!” Go figure. Don’t you just love the font of Call Me Wholesome?

Interesting discussion of Betty’s four female groupies and how she used “some current jive talk.” Whatever that was. When I think jive, I think Barbara Billingsley in Airplane. 

It would also be interesting to hunt down that column that was so brutal. Wonder what it said that left her “crushed for days?”

It’s a rather poignant to hear her speak of what she wanted at that point in a mate and how much it sounds like Allen.

Favorite line in the article? “Meantime, Betty isn’t lookin’ or chasin'”