Betty White Raised 3 Stepkids & Became ‘Instant Friends’ with Them despite Her Persistent Refusal to Have Kids

America’s sweetheart Betty White was a loving stepmother but never had any biological kids. Hollywood’s beloved star disclosed she would not have been able to juggle motherhood with her career.

Late actress Betty White was a stepmom to her third husband Allen Ludden’s three children. White first met her future spouse on the game show, the “Password,” a host on the game show at the time.

She described Ludden as a kind man while explaining they had previously watched each other on other shows, and in essence, felt as though they knew each other from that point.

Pictured: (L) Actress Betty White visits Fuse’s “No. 1 Countdown” at fuse Studios on June 11, 2009 in New York City. (R) Actor Allen Ludden with wife Betty White during a shoot for game show the “Password” on February 14, 1972 | Getty Images


However, according to the decorated veteran star, what she did not know about Ludden was that his wife was dying from cancer at the time. White added because the show was new, he had to juggle his job and at the same time ensure he was beside her.

Ludden’s wife died when White appeared on the show in the third week after its premiere. Later that summer, their agents booked them into the summer stock:

“He had these three kids who had lost their mother. They were at that point, 9, 10, and 13 and two new poodle puppies. So, we all got to know each other once, and somehow, we became instant friends.”

Betty White and Allen Ludden pose for home layout shoot for the “Password” on June 28, 1962 | Getty Images

She further explained they were there for three weeks, and soon enough, Ludden stopped saying hello to her and instead would say, “Will you marry me?”

The “Hot in Cleveland” alum pointed out that it was all a joke at that point and that they both used to laugh it off. Right after the stay, she went back home to her significant other named Phil, with whom she was in a steadily and happy relationship.

Ludden and White also starred in a romantic comedy play called “Critic’s Choice.” They shared an onstage kiss, making Phil feel uneasy about their bond. He was also honest about not liking Ludden and made that point known to his then-partner.

Although the comedian tried to reassure him that nothing was going on between her and Ludden, Phil remained adamant that something was brewing.

He even told her that he could tell that she was in love with the emcee and should admit it, but White was still in denial at the time:

“Well, I guess he knew that I was attracted to Allen long before I did.”

It went on for a year, and the television personality kept asking her to marry him, and to White, it was no longer funny anymore. She became upset because he persisted, telling him there was no way she would marry him.

Nonetheless, he bought her a wedding ring and kept dangling it in front of her. Even though she was still reluctant because she was afraid of relocating from California to New York, Ludden told her she would wear it one day. That day finally came to be as White gave in, finally saying yes to him.

The pair’s love affair began in 1962, and they wed on June 14, 1963. Sadly, Ludden died from stomach cancer in 1981. It was White’s longest marriage, having been married twice before.

“The Golden Girls” star did not have any children during her two marriages, but things changed when she married Ludden, which was her final marriage.

Not only did she fall in love with him, but she also fell in love with his three kids, David, Martha, and Sarah. Ludden welcomed his brood with his first spouse, Margret McGloin.

David, 73, is the couple’s eldest child, born in 1948. He was only a teenager when his dad married White, and although his stepmom was famous, he and his siblings lived a quiet normal life.

According to reports, David obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 and became a history professor at the same institution a few years later.

He is also an author and has been awarded several accolades for his achievements. David currently teaches Asian History at New York University.

Ludden and McGloin’s oldest daughter is 72-year-old Martha, born in 1950. Not much is known about her, but she received her law degree in 1990 and now works with people who have disabilities.

Like her brother, she was young when their father remarried, resulting in animosity between her and White. Martha made it clear that she opposed their marriage and did not like her stepmother.

While her relationship with her dad was already strained, his second marriage made things even sour in the Ludden household. But despite the tension, she and White ended up mending fences.

The youngest sibling is Sarah, 70, born in 1952. She was only nine years old when their mother died but had a great relationship with White, unlike her sister. Sarah even attempted to intervene in their arguments at times.

Apart from being a mediator for peace’s sake, she started her career as an audiologist and dancer, but it led to a newfound love for karate.

In 2009, Sarah received the Cook County Unsung Heroines Award and earned a fifth-degree black belt. She also founded the Thousand Waves Scholarship Fund, providing more than 100,000 tuition assistance to her students.

Ludden and McGloin were married for eighteen years, but when she passed away in 1961, the actor moved on with White. After his passing, the showbiz pioneer revealed she would not get married for the fourth time.

While she was grateful for the time she spent with him, she was more thankful for being a stepmother to his children through their relationship and once said:

“You know what? I never had children biologically. I married someone who had three children. And how blessed I was to have those three stepchildren.”


The legendary starlet referenced her successful career as a reason for not having children and revealed she had no regrets about it, telling CBS in 2012:

“I’m so compulsive about stuff. I know if I had ever gotten pregnant, that would have been my whole focus. I don’t think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both.”


Tragically, White died at the age of 99 on New Year’s Eve 2021. Ahead of her 98th birthday, she hosted a fun birthday party at her home with longtime friends and her stepkids.

A pal of hers revealed to Closer Weekly that she still enjoyed drinking, laughing, and telling stories, adding White was still close to her stepchildren and her friends.

They celebrated her special day by ordering food and having fun. In addition, White once shared how she would want to be remembered stating:

“I made people laugh, and I made them think a little bit. As Betty being that good friend that they invited into their home.”

She spent her time peacefully at her Los Angeles home in her final days. Amid the ongoing pandemic, the author kept herself busy with activities indoors including, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and watching TV.

White previously shared that she loved watching animal documentaries, “Jeopardy!” and golf in addition to games, per Do Your Remember.

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