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Allen Packard Ludden (Ellsworth)

Also Known As: "Ludden"
Birthplace: Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States
Death: June 09, 1981 (63)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States (Stomach Cancer)
Place of Burial: Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Elmer Dale Ellsworth and Leila M. Ellsworth / Ludden
Husband of Margaret Frances Ludden and Betty White
Father of Private and Private

Managed by: Theresa Renée Eléna Tossas-Cox
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Allen Ludden

on gravestone: "Capt. U.S. Army- WWII"

Allen Ludden

Original name: Allen Packard Ellsworth

- Memorial -

Birth: Oct. 5, 1917 Mineral Point (Iowa County) Iowa County Wisconsin, USA

Death: Jun. 9, 1981 Los Angeles Los Angeles County California, USA

'Password' Game Show Host. Husband of Betty White, whom he met when she was a panelist on "Password." Allen Ludden is buried next to his biological father, Elmer Ellsworth, in the Ellsworth plot at Graceland Cemetery in Mineral Point. A 70-acre manmade lake at the west edge of the community was named Lake Ludden in his honor.

Family links: Spouse: Margaret McGloin Ludden (1915 - 1961)

Cause of death: Cancer

Burial: Graceland Cemetery Mineral Point (Iowa County) Iowa County Wisconsin, USA GPS (lat/lon): 42.85712, -90.19534

Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 1925

Allen Ludden (October 5, 1917 – June 9, 1981) was an American television personality, emcee and game show host, perhaps most well known for hosting various incarnations of the game show Password between 1961 and 1980.

Early years

Allen Packard Ellsworth was the first child of Elmer Ellsworth, 25, a Nebraska native living in Mineral Point, Wisconsin and working as an ice dealer; and his wife Leila M. Allen, age 22, a Wisconsin native and housewife. Elmer Ellsworth died the next winter at age 26, a victim of the worldwide influenza epidemic, on January 6, 1919. When Allen was about five years old, Leila Ellsworth married Homer Ludden Jr., an electrical engineer and the son of H.D. Ludden, the town physician, a Chicago native who had practiced in Mineral Point since 1906. Allen was given his adoptive father's name and became Allen Ellsworth Ludden. The family lived briefly in the Wisconsin towns of Janesville, Elkhorn, Antigo and Waupaca before moving to Texas when Allen was still a small child.

Education and career

An English and dramatics major at the University of Texas, Ludden graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1940 and received his Master of Arts in English from the same university in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army, received a Bronze Star, and was discharged with the rank of captain in 1946. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he carved out a career as an adviser for youth in teen magazine columns and on radio. His radio show for teenagers, Mind Your Manners, received a Peabody Award in 1950.

Ludden hosted many game shows, including the GE College Bowl, but he was most well known for hosting both the daytime and prime time versions of Password on CBS and ABC between 1961 and 1975. His opening TV catch phrase, "Hi doll," was directed toward his beloved real-life mother-in-law, Tess White, mother of Betty White. He ended Password with a "password of the day," and then "So long, see you tomorrow, I hope." Ludden began hosting an updated version of the game, Password Plus, on NBC, in 1979, but chemotherapy treatments for stomach cancer forced him off the show in late October 1980. Tom Kennedy filled in as host during this time. Other shows hosted by Ludden include Liar's Club, Win With the Stars, and Stumpers! He also hosted the original pilot for The Joker's Wild and hosted a talk-variety show, Allen Ludden's Gallery.

At the request of the publishers Dodd, Mead & Co., Ludden wrote and published four books of "Plain Talk" advice, plus a youth novel, Roger Thomas, Actor (1959), all for young readers. He received the 1961 Horatio Alger Award.



Ludden married Margaret McGloin on October 11, 1943. She died from cancer on October 30, 1961, just 2 1/2 weeks after their 18th wedding anniversary. They had a son, David, and two daughters, Martha and Sarah.

He proposed to twice-divorced Betty White, whom he had met on Password, at least twice before she accepted. Eventually, they were married on June 14, 1963, and remained together until Ludden's death. They appeared together in an episode of The Odd Couple in which Felix and Oscar appeared on Password. Ludden also appeared as a guest panelist on Match Game, with White sitting in the audience (she was prompted to rip apart one of Ludden's wrong answers on camera during an episode of Match Game '74; the two appeared together on the panel in 1975, and on Match Game PM in 1980).


After Ludden was diagnosed with stomach cancer in early 1980, he took a leave of absence from Password Plus for chemotherapy treatment and returned a month later (Bill Cullen substituted during this time). In late October 1980, he slipped into a coma while on vacation. It was initially reported that he had suffered a stroke, but the coma was actually caused by high levels of calcium from medication taken to help fight the cancer. Ludden's good friend Tom Kennedy took over as host of Password Plus during this time, and while Ludden hoped to return at some point in the future, his cancer grew worse during this time and he never returned. Allen Ludden died in Los Angeles on June 9, 1981, just days before his 18th wedding anniversary with Betty White. He was 63. Ludden was buried beside his father in the Ellsworth family plot in Graceland Cemetery in his hometown of Mineral Point, Wisconsin.


A walkway at the Los Angeles Zoo was named in his memory (Betty White is a board member at the Zoo) and a man-made lake in Mineral Point was named Ludden Lake in his honor.


The Allen Ludden Papers collection is located at the Free Public Library in his native Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The items include letters written or received by Ludden, typed radio scripts, newspaper and magazine clippings by or about Ludden, publicity photographs and personal photographs, and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses (which are broken). The collection was donated by Betty White.

Television Personality. He is remembered as the emcee and host of the CBS television game show "Password" that aired daily from October 1961 to September 1967 and later on ABC from April 1971 until June 1975. Born Allen Packard Ellsworth, his father was an ice dealer who died soon afterwards in the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. At age five, his mother remarried the town physician and he adopted his surname Ludden. He then moved to Texas with his family where he attended the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1940 and a Master of Arts Degree in 1941. Following the US entry into World War II in December 1941, he joined the US Army and received a Bronze Star during his overseas service. Following his discharge in 1946 at the rank of captain, he began working as a youth advisor in teen magazines and on the radio, and hosted the teen radio show "Mind Your Manners" that received a Peabody Award in 1950. In 1959 he became the host of the CBS television student quiz show "General Electric College Bowl" until 1962 and in October 1961 he began his run as the host of "Password." He hosted other television game shows, including "Win With the Stars" (1968 to 1969), the short-lived "Stumpers!" (October to December 1976), "Liar's Club" (1977 to 1979), and "Password Plus" (1979 to 1980). Additionally, he penned four books of "Plain Talk" advice, along with a novel for young readers, "Roger Thomas, Actor" (1959), and was the recipient of the 1961 Horatio Alger Award. He died from stomach cancer in Los Angeles, California at the age of 63. At the time of his death, he was married to actress and popular television personality Betty White.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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Allen Ludden's Timeline

October 5, 1917
Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States
June 9, 1981
Age 63
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States