When most people come to the ends of their lives, they can’t help but look back at the things they’ve done and the people they loved. But rather than regretting a lost game or failed business venture, it’s lost time with the ones we love.
Few entertainment personalities can claim to have had as much success as Betty White. This multi-talented performer rose to fame as the hilarious cooking show host Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977) and forever captured the hearts of viewers young and old with her role as the sweet but air-headed Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (1985–1992).
But it was during the 1960s, when White became known as the “Queen of Game Shows” for her frequent guest appearances and irreverent wit on various popular quiz and panel shows, that she met Allen Ludden, who hosted the popular game show Password.
Though White had been married twice before, neither union lasting for very long, this time was different. As she told Katie Couric in an interview for Yahoo! News: “then all of sudden, you find the right one and it makes everything fall into place.”
Betty White's own love story wasn't without trials and tribulations. Learn more about the legendary actress.
But after having been married and divorced twice, and long being used to her independence as a director, producer, and comedian, it was difficult for White to say yes to Ludden. In fact, Ludden proposed to her twice before she finally accepted.
When asked by Oprah Winfrey at the age of 93 what her biggest regret was, White admitted that she wished she’d given in to Ludden earlier. “I spent a whole year, wasted a whole year that Allen and I could have had together, saying, ‘No, I wouldn’t marry him. No, I won’t. No, I won’t leave California. No, I won’t move to New York.’”
Thankfully as she told Oprah, Ludden’s insistence finally convinced her to give love another try. “We made it, we finally did.” As she told The Daily Mail, “I made two mistakes before Allen, but the love of your life doesn’t come along in every life, so I am very grateful that I found him.”
No better way to kick off 95 than with a visit from my dear friend, Katie Couric.
White enjoyed 18 happy years with Ludden and appeared on Password with her husband several times. Sadly, in 1981, Allen Ludden passed away from stomach cancer, leaving White a widow and a regret that she hadn’t had longer to spend with him.
White has always been frank about her appreciation of handsome men of any age, but she’s never even considered marrying after Ludden’s death. As she explained to the Mail, “once you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”
When asked by Katie Couric (who was widowed herself in 1998) what her advice would be for other women who have lost their husbands, White talked about the importance of living in the present. “One day at a time. You don’t look ahead. You try not to look back and of course you can’t help that.”
As for what keeps her going this late in life, having outlived her husband and many of her oldest friends, White stays busy and gives back to the world that gave her such a great life.
As she shared with her friend Katie Couric: “first of all, keep busy and don’t focus everything on you. That wears out pretty fast. It’s not hard to find things you’re interested in. Enjoy them and indulge them. That keeps you on your toes.”
While it might have taken White longer than she’d have liked to find love and happiness, she’s grateful for what she’s had and shows no signs of slowing down continuing to live her best life!