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.
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 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.
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!
From Good Housekeeping Needlecraft, Spring/Summer 1979:
Click on the image to download a PDF of the article!
It’s nice to see an article with some out-of-the-ordinary pictures.
I’m also impressed that she spent four years on a single needlepoint rug — I can’t imagine staying with one thing that long!
The article describes a director’s chair she stitched for Allen: “The chair, done in Allen’s favorite marigold colors, has his name and motif on the back.” What do you suppose Allen’s motif was? Perhaps a little Allen head in caricature?
Here’s a interesting item I found on eBay. Someone was selling a beat-up plain wood recipe box with this recipe card inside it. Bidding started at $50 and there were no takers. I love how people think their junk is worth a ton!
Anyway. I digress… The rare “Betty White recipes” (I’ve only seen one other example – for “Chicken Wings Pacifica”) are amusing, as Betty is a self-admitted klutz in the kitchen. And was the public really to believe she cared what brand of flour she allegedly used? I wonder if there were other variations of this card?
I would date it at about 1954. All in all, an interesting piece.