American treasure Betty White was far more than just an actress—she was an all-around good human being, beloved for her wit, humor, and passion for animals. White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but her family moved to California in 1923. She owned just two homes in the second half of her life: a Brentwood, Los Angeles residence and, her favorite, the house she built in Carmel-by-the-Sea with her third husband, Allen Ludden.
Despite being famous, White only invited the public into her home a few times throughout her eight-decade career. We dug deep into the archives to bring you these photos of the actress at home—keep reading to take a peek inside and learn even more about the actress and her career.
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922. But she didn't live there long—her family moved to Alhambra, California, shortly after White turned one.
As a teenager, White attended Beverly Hills High School, from which she graduated in 1939. It was there she discovered her passion and talent for acting.
White had initially wanted to become a forest ranger, because of her love for animals, but that wasn't a viable career path for women at the time. The U.S. Forest Service made White an honorary ranger in 2010. Here, she's pictured at home with her dogs Bandy (top left), Danny (top right), and Stormy (bottom) in 1954.
Before White's career could begin after graduation, World War II broke out. White drove delivery trucks for the American Women's Voluntary Services in California.
Though White snagged a few television gigs during the industry's nascent days—she participated in an experimental broadcast in 1939—she primarily worked in radio in her early career. Her TV breakthrough came in 1949, when she co-hosted the show Al Jarvis's Hollywood on Television, eventually succeeding the eponymous host.
She was then given her own daily talk and variety show, The Betty White Show, which ran from 1952 through 1954.
The Betty White Show was pioneering in many ways. White herself became the first woman to produce a national TV show—and she was the first woman to hire a female director.
White also received some criticism for featuring Black tap dancer Arthur Duncan on the show. "All through the South, there was this whole ruckus. They were going to take the show off the air if we didn't get rid of Arthur because he was Black," White explained in a 2018 documentary about her life. "I said, 'I'm sorry, but, you know, he stays. Live with it!'"
White also starred in two sitcoms in the 1950s: Life With Elizabeth and Date with the Angels. Neither was particularly long-lived.
But White met Lucille Ball while filming Date with the Angeles, as the show was shot on the same lot as I Love Lucy. The two bonded over working in a male-dominated industry and became life-long friends.
In the 1960s, White's career moved into game shows, not as a host, but as a guest. She made appearances on such shows as The Match Game, I've Got a Secret, and What's My Line?
In fact, White met the love of her life, Allen Ludden, on a game show. Ludden hosted Password, on which White was a guest.
White and Ludden married in 1963. It was White's third marriage and Ludden's second.
Though the two had no children together, White helped raise Ludden's children from his previous marriage: David, Martha, and Sarah. And there were always plenty of pets.
Ludden convinced White to move to Chappaqua, New York, for a brief spell—Ludden lived there with his children. But the move didn't last, as White insisted on returning to California.
White was a stalwart Californian. She even turned down a job hosting The Today Show, because she didn't want to live in New York. The job ended up going to Barbara Walters.
White's breakthrough moment in television happened rather late in her career. She joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1973, when she was 51.
Her character, Sue Ann Nivens, was originally just a guest on the show. But the character was upgraded to a series regular one season later.
White played Sue Ann Nivens through 1977. She reminisced on the role in an interview with Katie Couric in 2011: "They'd ask my husband, Allen Ludden, they'd ask, 'How close to Betty and Sue Ann?' He said, 'Well, they're the same except Betty can't cook, of course.'"
White would win her first Primetime Emmy while playing Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But that wasn't her first Emmy—here, she's pictured with her Regional Emmy Award, which she won in 1952 for Life With Elizabeth.
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