Betty White and Allen Ludden's Relationship Timeline

Betty White and Allen Ludden were married from 1963 until his death in 1981. Here is a complete timeline of their relationship

01 of 08

1961: Betty White Meets Allen Ludden

betty white, allen ludden
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Following two short-lived marriages, Betty White found true love with game show host Allen Ludden, whom she met while appearing as a guest on Password during the show's third week. "We felt like we knew each other," she told the Archive of American Television, recalling their "love affair."

"He was the most genuine man I've ever known," White once told PEOPLE of Ludden, who had three children from a previous marriage. "I first fell in love with his enthusiasm. He was interested in everything."

02 of 08

1963: Betty White and Allen Ludden Get Engaged

betty white, allen ludden

Within weeks of their meeting, Ludden proposed marriage — "just as a joke," White, who was in no mood for remarrying at that time, once recalled to PEOPLE, "But he wouldn't let up." When she refused a diamond wedding ring ("Oh, I was a bitch!"), he wore it on a chain around his neck.

She finally gave in on Easter 1963. He sent her "this adorable fluffy white stuffed bunny," she remembered, "and in its ears were gold leaves with ruby, diamond and sapphire earrings." They wed that year.

"I wasted all that time we could have been together," she said.

Ludden died in 1981, just shy of the couple's 18th wedding anniversary.

03 of 08

1970s: Betty White and Allen Ludden Still Act 'Like Newlyweds'

betty white, allen ludden
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"They're like newlyweds," producer Lin Bolen (not pictured) told PEOPLE in the '70s. "When they can't be together at work, they call each other from their dressing rooms."

Even Johnny Carson, one of White's pals, admired the couple's relationship, comparing it to his own. Recalling a chat with Carson, White told PEOPLE, "One of the nicest things that happened came after [Johnny] had married Alex [Maas, in 1987]. Between commercials, he leaned over to me, took my hand, and very seriously said, 'I know what you had [with Allen]. I finally found it — I'm happier than I've ever been in my life.' It was a lovely moment."

04 of 08

1986: Betty White Says Her Relationship with Allen Ludden Is Reflected on 'Golden Girls'

betty white, allen ludden
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"The way my part is written, Charlie and Rose evidently had a good marriage," White told The Washington Post in 1986 of her Golden Girls role and her character's late husband. "It's impossible for me to refer to Charlie without thinking of Allen. That's just art imitating life."

05 of 08

1988: Allen Ludden Gets Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Next to Betty White's

betty white, allen ludden
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White and Ludden's stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame remain next to each other. "I cannot express what this day means to me," a teary White told the crowd at the unveiling of Ludden's star in 1988.

"Don't be surprised if, in the wee hours of the morning, our stars are fooling around."

06 of 08

2011: Betty White Explains Why She Never Remarried After Allen Ludden's Death

betty white, allen ludden
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When Anderson Cooper asked White in 2011 why she never remarried, she replied, "I had the love of my life. If you've had the best, who needs the rest?"

"They loved each other so much," White's friend Carol Burnett told PEOPLE, adding that once, amid Ludden's battle with stomach cancer, "Betty would come in and rehearse my show and then leave to go to the hospital. She just soldiered through, brilliant as always."

07 of 08

2012: Betty White Says 'Thank Goodness' She Married Allen Ludden When She Did

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"I just wasn't about to take another chance," White said of marriage in a 2012 CNN interview. "Then I thought, 'Am I going to live the rest of my life without this man?' Thank goodness we got married when we did."

The couple even continued their routine date night as their relationship went on. "He would call me from wherever he was working and say, 'You wanna go out to dinner? You wanna have a date?'" White recalled to PEOPLE.

She continued, "And I'd say, 'Sure!' Well, going out to dinner meant he'd stop on the way home and pick up a chicken and put it on the barbecue. We'd put on a stack of records, have our barbecue and dance. We enjoyed each other."

08 of 08

December 2021: Betty White's Assistant on How She Honors Allen Ludden's Memory

betty white, allen ludden

"She keeps a photo of him on her bedside table and blows him a kiss every morning," White's longtime executive personal assistant, Kiersten Mikelas, told PEOPLE. "At night, when she opens the shutters, she blows a kiss to him up in the sky."

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