Who is Allen Ludden?
Allen Packard Ellsworth was born on 5 October 1917, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, USA. He was a game show host, actor, and television personality, best known for hosting different incarnations of the game show entitled “Password”. He was active in the industry from 1941 up to his death in 1981; he was married to actress Betty White.
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The Net Worth of Allen Ludden
Allen Ludden’s net worth was estimated to be over $8 million, earned through success in the entertainment industry. He also probably benefitted from the success of his spouse, as Betty White’s net worth is estimated to be over $50 million.
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Early Life and Education
Allen’s father worked as an ice dealer, while his mother stayed at home as a housewife. A year after he was born, his father passed away from the Spanish flu, which at the time had grown into a worldwide epidemic. Her mother would remarry when he was five years old to an electrical engineer, and Allen adopted his stepfather’s last name. Over the next few years following their marriage, the family moved around, so Allen lived in Waupaca, Janesville, Antigo, and Elkhorn before the family settled in Texas.
He took up his education in the state, and after matriculating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Texas where he took up a degree in English, completing it in 1940. The university is considered one of the largest of the state in terms of enrollment, and is home to numerous high profile alumni. Following his graduation, he furthered his studies by taking up a Master’s degree in English, completing it after a year, after which he joined the US Army.
Entertainment and Career Beginnings
Ludden joined the army on the entertainment side, becoming an officer and serving in the Pacific theater. He served for five years with the military, rising to the rank of captain by the time he was discharged; he also earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service. After his return home, he began working on radio and for a magazine, and becoming an adviser for youth. During this time he hosted a show entitled “Mind Your Manners”, which was directed at teenagers. The show attracted enough acclaim for it to gain an honorable mention during the 1950 Peabody Awards.
Following his work on radio, he started taking television projects, mainly as the host of game shows. He hosted the student quiz show called the General Electric, or “GE College Bowl”; he subsequently rose to prominence as the host of the game show “Password” on CBS. In the game, each contestant would be paired with a celebrity, and they must try to figure out mystery words only using single word clues. The show proved successful, and is ranked as one of the greatest game shows ever by “TV Guide”.
Forced Retirement and Death
During his career in the entertainment industry, Allen became the host of many shows. These included the talk show “Allen Ludden’s Gallery” in which he worked alongside his wife, actress Betty White, among other shows such as “Win with the Stars”, “Stumpers!” and “Liar’s Club”. The latter featured celebrity guests who would try to offer explanations of unusual objects to contestants, who must figure it out to win prizes. In 1979, he returned to his beloved game show which was picked up by NBC this time around, the new version being called “Password Plus”. It followed a similar pattern to the original show with a few more variations.
He only stayed with this version for the show for a year, as during this time he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He opted to take chemotherapy for the disease, which forced him to leave the show as he no longer had the strength to continue. A few months passed while he was under treatment for the disease, and he slipped into a coma while taking a vacation. Reports showed that he had taken medication to help fight cancer, but it had high levels of calcium which led to the incident. His cancer grew worse and there was no hope for him returning to his previous duties.
Mary Tyler Moore, Grant Tinker, Allen Ludden and I had some of the best times of my life together. She was special. pic.twitter.com/tLf3oU2wlR
— Betty White (@BettyMWhite) January 26, 2017
He passed away in 1981 just a few days before his 18th wedding anniversary to White.
Allen’s first marriage was to Margaret McGloin in 1943 – she passed away from cancer in 1961, just a few weeks after their 18th wedding anniversary; they had three children during their time together. A year later, he developed a romance with actress Betty White while they worked on the play “Critic’s Choice”. Both of them were divorcees, and he had to propose to her twice before she accepted. They married in 1963, and remained together until his passing.
Since then, White has not remarried, even iterating during an interview with Larry King that she has no desire to pursue anyone else as she’s already had the best. Following his passing, a walkway at the Los Angeles Zoo was named after him in his memory, and an artificial lake in his hometown was also re-named after him. There was also a dog named Ludden which White donated to the organization Guide Dogs for the Blind, as a memory to him. Many of his personal belongings are stored at the Free Public Library in his hometown, also donated by White. They include letters and scripts written by him, as well as newspaper clippings about his life, photographs, and a broken pair of horn-rimmed glasses which he used to wear.