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