HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVClassic TV‘I Love Lucy’: Remembering Lucille Ball’s Decades-Long Friendship With ‘Golden Girls’ Icon Betty White

‘I Love Lucy’: Remembering Lucille Ball’s Decades-Long Friendship With ‘Golden Girls’ Icon Betty White

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)

Throughout her nearly 100 years of life, Betty White formed innumerable friendships. She was beloved by so many that when she passed away late last year, it seemed the entire world mourned her death. Few, however, found their way into the Golden Girl’s inner circle.

One who did was none other than classic TV legend Lucille Ball, who had a close friendship with Betty White for more than thirty years. The Hollywood icons formed a relationship in 1956 while both were young women, Betty White in her 30s, Lucille Ball in her 40s, and remained friends until Ball’s passing in 1989.

Back in 1987, Lucille Ball and Betty White, now extremely close, guest starred on the All-Star Super Password special together. In an interview with Closer Weekly, Ann Dusenberry, Life With Lucy star, gave an inside look at the friendship between the two stars. “Lucy and Betty’s relationship spanned more than just being show business acquaintances,” Dusenberry said. “They considered each other family.”

“Betty was still trying to get a foothold in show business when she met Lucy,” Dusenberry explained. “Their bond was their common accomplishment as business women in a male-dominated industry”

Another friend explained that, while Betty and Lucy were friends, Lucy was also a role model for the Golden Girls star. “Betty really looked up to Lucy,” they said. “And Lucy saw that she and Betty were cut from the same cloth. Lucy took Betty under her wing. She was already the biggest female star on TV, and in many ways, she paved the way for Betty’s achievements.”

Betty White and Lucille Ball’s Friendship Was Built on Jokes

As Betty White and Lucille Ball were both known for their comedy as well as their acting, it’s no surprise that there was no shortage of jokes in their relationship. “They were powerfully funny and ready and willing to be playful,” Ann Dusenberry recalled. “Even foolish, if there was a joke in it.”

After Lucille Ball passed away, Betty White gave an interview with People magazine in which she recounted the day Ball’s longtime love, Desi Arnaz, passed away. Though it was a difficult time for Lucille, she knew that she could open up to Betty.

“The day that Desi died [in 1986] she and I were doing Password together,” White explained. “She was being real funny on the show, but during a break she said, ‘You know, it’s the damndest thing. Godd–n it, I didn’t think I’d get this upset. There he goes.’ It was a funny feeling, kind of a lovely, private moment.”

In an interview with The Atlantic, Betty White shared that Lucille Ball’s favorite activity when spending time with her friend was backgammon. “We had such fun,” White said. “She was always going to teach me backgammon. She was determined she was going to teach me.”

“So we’d get together and she’d have it all set up,” she continued. “But her idea of teaching was, ‘Alright here, I’ll take my turn. Now you throw the dice,’ which I would. And then she’d move my pieces here and here, and I’d say, ‘Lucy, how am I going to learn the game if you’re playing the game with yourself?’ But we did it a lot and had fun.”