St. John's Confidential File
MSJ: Betty, I remember sitting in a television station watching your show being taped which was in black and white at the time. And when I see you today on the tube, you are just as funny as you were then. What do you do to keep current as an artist?
BW: I laugh a lot. Seriously! When you watch all the insane things going on around you, there’s nothing else you can do but laugh.
MSJ: Which part of your career was the most difficult to handle as far as opportunities to move forward as an actress?
BW: Oh, when the game show idea became popular, I was ignored because I was a woman, and the network couldn’t see me in that kind of hosting shoes. And I didn’t get a chance until 1083 when I became the first female to host a game show and won an Emmy. It was quite nice and a whole lot of fun. I was very lucky!
MSJ: You’ve been a singer, a voice-over artist, comedian, author, you’ve done it all. Which of these efforts do you or have you enjoyed the most?
BW: I really enjoy playing or creating dizzy broads, ones who don’t have the slightest idea about reality, they’re so busy enjoying a fantasy they’ve created for themselves. I just think they’re delightful characters that people find easy to identify with. Possibly they think of an old aunt or even a neighbor that made them laugh and have fun with.
MSJ: Is this one of the reasons you felt at home working on the Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as Golden Girls?
BW: I think so playing Sue Ann Nivens was a blast; she was a sneaky little devil and the viewers loved hating her. And the same with “Blanche” on the Golden Girls. She was obsessed with men and always making the wrong choice. Frankly, I really think this is why so many women enjoyed watching her, she reminded them of themselves.
MSJ: Your marriage to Allen Ludden seemed to have been a perfect fit. You had so much in common.
BW: It was wonderful! We actually met when I appeared on his Password game show. We took a liking to each other immediately. As a matter of fact, he asked me to have dinner with him right after my first appearance on that show. And he told me as I was about to take a drink from my wine glass that he wanted me to be his wife. The only thing I said, because I was so surprised was, “Good gracious, Allen, give me a chance to swallow my damn wine! I almost choked! Eventually, of course, I thought why not and agreed to be Mrs. Ludden. And there were tons of wonderful days and months discovering each other in so many ways. Allen was a wonderful part of my life. I was lucky to have him as long as I did, but he’s here in my heart, the good times, the sad times, but always the magic he brought to everything we did together.
MSJ: Betty, do you ever want to retire from the business and just live a quiet life without all show biz noise?
BW: Listen, honey, I’ve been in this business for so many years I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t hear someone yell “LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION, that’s when I’m really alive!
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