How are you related to Allen Ludden?

Connect to the World Family Tree to find out

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

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 (complications of stomach cancer)
Place of Burial: Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Biological son of Elmer Dale Ellsworth and Leila Matilda Ludden
Adopted son of Homer Jameson Ludden, Jr.
Husband of Margaret F. Ludden (McGloin) and Betty White
Father of Private; Private and Private

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

About Allen Ludden

Allen Ludden was an American television personality, actor, emcee and game show host. He hosted various incarnations of the game show Password between 1961 and 1980.

Early life

Ludden was born on October 5, 1917, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, the first child of Elmer Ellsworth and his wife Leila M. Allen. Ellsworth was a Nebraska native who worked as an ice dealer, while Allen was a Wisconsin native and housewife. Elmer Ellsworth died the next winter on January 6, 1919 at age 26, a victim of the Spanish flu.

When Ludden was about five years old, his mother married Homer Ludden, Jr., an electrical engineer. Homer Ludden was the son of Chicago native H.D. Ludden, the town physician 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 cities of Janesville, Elkhorn, Antigo, and Waupaca before moving to Texas when Ludden was nine years old.

Education and career

An English and dramatics major at the University of Texas (now known as the University of Texas at Austin), 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 United States Army as officer in charge of entertainment in the Pacific theater, received a Bronze Star Medal, 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 an honorable mention Peabody Award in 1950.

Ludden hosted many game shows, including the 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.

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. 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. He released an album called Allen Ludden Sings His Favorite Songs on RCA Records in 1964.


Ludden married Margaret McGloin on October 11, 1943. She died of cancer on October 30, 1961. 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. Their romance blossomed when they played summer stock theatre together, in the play Critic's Choice in 1962. They also appeared together in the romantic comedy Janus in 1963. 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 and also as a couple on a season 4 episode of The Love Boat.


After Ludden was diagnosed with stomach cancer in early 1980, he took a month-long leave of absence from Password Plus for chemotherapy treatment, with Bill Cullen filling in as host. On October 7, 1980, he slipped into a coma while on vacation in Monterey, California. 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. Tom Kennedy assumed duties as host of Password Plus, and although Ludden hoped to return to the show, his cancer grew worse and he never returned. Ludden died in Los Angeles on June 9, 1981, at age 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 was a board member at the Zoo), and an artificial lake in Mineral Point was named Ludden Lake in his honor. Betty White also donated a Labrador Retriever named "Ludden" to Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California, in memory of her late husband.

Ludden's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located on North side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard, next to Betty White's star. White accepted Ludden's posthumously awarded star on 19 April 1987 during an appearance on This Is Your Life. The star was formally unveiled in a ceremony on 31 March 1988.

In an interview on Larry King Live, when asked whether or not she would remarry, Betty White replied by saying, "Once you've had the best, who needs the rest?"

The above text is from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA.


  • "Allen Ludden." Wikipedia, revision of 1 January 2022. < link > Accessed 1 January 2022.
  • Rice, Nicholas. "Why Betty White Never Had Kids of Her Own, But Relished Her Role as Stepmom: 'It Turned Out Great'." People, published 31 December 2021. < link > Accessed 1 January 2022.
  • Severo, Richard and Peter Keepnews. "Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99." The New York Times, published 31 December 2021. < link > Accessed 1 January 2022.
  • Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy: Jan 21 2020, 13:03:12 UTC
  • Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy: Dec 31 2021, 21:25:00 UTC
view all

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
Graceland Cemetery, Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, United States