White, Betty, 1922-2021

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Betty Marion White Ludden (January 17, 1922, Oak Park, Illinois – December 31, 2021, Los Angeles, California) was an American actress and comedian. A pioneer of early television, with a career spanning over seven decades, White was noted for her vast work in the entertainment industry and being one of the first women to work both in front of and behind the camera. She was the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth) in the United States, which contributed to her being named honorary Mayor of Hollywood in 1955. White is often referred to as the "First Lady of Television", a title used for a 2018 documentary detailing her life and career.

After making the transition to television from radio, White became a staple panelist of American game shows, including Password, Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, The Hollywood Squares, and The $25,000 Pyramid; dubbed "the first lady of game shows", White became the first woman to receive the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host for the show Just Men! in 1983. She was also known for her appearances on The Bold and the Beautiful, Boston Legal, and The Carol Burnett Show. Her biggest roles include Sue Ann Nivens on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977), Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–1992), and Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (2010–2015). She gained renewed popularity after her appearance in the 2009 romantic comedy film The Proposal (2009), and was subsequently the subject of a successful Facebook-based campaign to host Saturday Night Live in 2010, garnering her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

White met her husband Allen Ludden while a celebrity contestant the gameshow Password, hosted by Ludden. They married on June 14, 1963, and remained married until Ludden's death in 1981.

Betty White worked longer in television than anyone else in that medium, earning her a Guinness World Record in 2018. She received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was a 1995 Television Hall of Fame inductee.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf McMullen, Gretchen. [Culinary ephemera : radio and television]. Box 350. William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Milton Caniff Collection, 1805-2007, 1910-1988 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
referencedIn President Barack Obama with Betty White in the Oval Office Barack H. Obama Library
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf White, Betty, 1922-. [Interview with Betty White] [sound recording] / Betty White ; [interviewed by] David Marc, Los Angeles, CA, April 29, 1997. Syracuse University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
spouseOf Ludden, Allen, 1917-1981 person
associatedWith Marc, David. person
associatedWith Milton Caniff person
associatedWith Moore, Mary Tyler, 1937- person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oak Park IL US
Los Angeles CA US
Television actors and actresses
Television broadcasting
Television comedies
Television game shows
Television producers and directors
Animals on television
Comedy programs


Birth 1922-01-17

Death 2021-12-31


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