Betty White’s Last Words Will Leave You Misty-Eyed
What was it about Betty White that we all grew to love? I think it was her transparency. I think every time we watched Betty White portray any of the characters she grew to be famous for, we still saw a little bit of Betty in them.
My first memories of Betty White were on television game shows. I especially remember seeing her on the TV show Password which at the time was hosted by Allen Ludden. As I watched the show as a kid I had no idea that Ludden and White were man and wife. That's a fact that figures into the rest of this story.
By the way, this clip from the "old school" version of Password was filmed right after Betty and Allen's Honeymoon. Can you tell?
For most of my generation and those even a little younger than me, our first exposure to Betty White as a "character" came on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. White portrayed WJM-TVs Happy Homemaker. In that role, Betty was more than a bit bawdy but we could accept that.
In my mind, even though the role of Sue Ann Nivens, aka The Happy Homemaker, was a supporting role, it was one of Betty's best ever. The character whose persona bears a strong resemblance to the Golden Girls Blanche Devereaux was a great vehicle for White.
She got to be sexy, funny, sultry, bawdy, and tough all at the same time. I really think that despite her long entertainment pedigree this is the role that set up Betty White for her last 50 years as an actress.
Maybe it was the death of Allen Ludden in 1981 that really enhanced Betty's portrayal of Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls. In that character, we could still see the spunk and humor of Betty White shining through but there was a vulnerability that also made Rose one of White's most beloved characters.
I don't think Betty White ever got over Allen Ludden. Which is absolutely beautiful to me. I want to be loved like that and the reason I say that is because of what one of White's co-stars for many years, Vicki Lawrence revealed following her death.
Lawrence, who starred with White on Mama's Family, was also a regular on another TV staple, The Carol Burnett Show. According to a story on Page Six, Lawrence, upon learning of White's passing texted Burnett with the news.
It was then that Burnett revealed to Lawrence the final words that escaped from Betty's lips just before she passed. The words or should I say word was simply the name Allen. Burnett said she had spoken to one of White's assistants who were in the room with her when she crossed over.
Obviously, we are hoping that this is a true story. It's the kind of fitting end of a life well-lived and romance that knew no end. Betty White and Allen Ludden were married from 1963 until his death in 1981. As I mentioned, I think this was the kind of love that we all yearn for. The kind of love that even 'til death do us part isn't strong enough to break the bond.
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