Legendary Hollywood actress Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021, two weeks before her 100th birthday on January 17. The 99-year-old shared her excitement at celebrating the milestone three days before her passing.
The Golden Girls star also worked on a special cover story with People magazine ahead of her birthday. She also decided to film a documentary titled Betty White: 100 Years Young - A Birthday Celebration to share glimpses of her birthday party with fans.
White did not suffer from any recurring ailments or health conditions. Police were seen outside the actress’ home on Friday but only due to legal proceedings. Officials confirmed that no foul play was involved and the TV icon passed away due to natural causes.
News of her death was confirmed by her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas in a statement to People:
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
White was married three times in her life. She first tied the knot with Dick Barker during World War II. Following her divorce, she married talent agent Lane Allen. However, the couple parted ways after two years.
The actress found her true happiness with her third husband, game show host Allen Ludden. The duo was happily married for nearly two decades until the latter’s death in 1981.
A look into Betty White’s relationships
During World War II, Betty White fell in love with U.S. Army Air Corps pilot Dick Barker while working with the American Women's Voluntary Services. The duo reportedly met during a dance and got engaged shortly after.
The pair tied the knot in 1945 and lived together in Ohio. However, they decided to part ways only six months after their wedding. The Mary Tyler Moore Show star once told Closer that her first marriage was a “nightmare.”
The ‘First Lady of Television’ tied the knot with Hollywood talent agent Lane Allen in 1947, nearly two years after her first divorce. However, their relationship ended in 1949 when Allen wanted White to stop working two years into their marriage.
Betty White opened up about her second marriage while speaking to Newsweek a few years ago:
“We had a couple of very good years. But he wanted me to stop working. He didn't want me to be in show business.”
The Emmy Award winner also revealed in her Lifetime Intimate Portrait that she did not regret ending her second marriage:
“When you have a calling you have to follow it, so I made the choice, blew the marriage, and I've never regretted it.”
Betty White found love with game show host Allen Ludden for the third time. The duo met when White appeared as a guest on the Ludden’s popular game show Password in 1961. The latter lost his first wife, Margaret McGloin, to cancer.
Ludden and White became friends and even worked together in plays like Critics' Choice and Janus. The pair eventually began a romantic relationship and the former proposed to Betty White just a few weeks after they started dating.
However, the Hot in Cleveland actress turned down his proposals twice before finally saying "yes" in 1963. Betty White recalled the situation while speaking to CNN in 2012 and said she was thankful she was given a third chance at marriage:
"I just wasn't about to take another chance. 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 enjoyed a happy marriage for nearly two decades until Allen Ludden passed away after a battle with stomach cancer in 1981.
The Grammy Award winner never considered remarriage after Ludden’s passing. She also spoke about her choice during an interview with Anderson Cooper in 2011:
"I had the love of my life. If you've had the best, who needs the rest? 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.”
Betty White also served as her husband’s caregiver after he was diagnosed. The pair did not have any biological children, but the actress shared a close bond with her three stepchildren from Ludden’s first marriage.