‘The Betty White Show’: Why the Iconic Actress’ Sitcom Was Essentially Doomed to Fail

by Joe Rutland

It’s hard to believe that “The Betty White Show” starring one of TV’s funniest people would not be a runaway smash hit. The show flopped.

Let’s take a closer look at the show starring Betty White, who played Sue Ann Nivens, “The Happy Homemaker,” on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

First, the show starred White, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” costar Georgia Engel, and pre-“Magnum, P.I.” stardom John Hillerman. Second, the show’s plot surrounded White being cast as a hack actress in the fictitious “Undercover Woman” series. Third, “The Betty White Show” was slotted at the same time “Monday Night Football” was on ABC.

Obviously, “Monday Night Football” on ABC in the 1977-78 season won its timeslot. Ratings for “The Betty White Show” were not strong and CBS, in January 1978, canceled the show.

White is 99 years old and still going strong. Hillerman died in 2017 and Engel died in 2019.

Betty White Continues Her Career After All these Years

With more than 150 movies and TV shows in her career, Betty White is a woman who has quite a resume’ of work.

It must be a massive amount of struggling and fighting that got her in the limelight. This has to be the reason, right? Nope, White said.

She simply said that all of it is pure luck in an interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College.

“Sure blind luck, for one thing, but I sure can’t believe…they will catch onto me one of these days, they haven’t yet, and I’m not going to help them,” White said. “But I hear people say, ‘Oh, but there are no rules for women anymore, you know, once they pass a given age, nobody wants you.'”

Actress Was Married To Game-Show Host Allen Ludden

White understands that it takes work to get out there and get roles. She also knows about getting roles that don’t live up to one’s dreams.

“You may never want to do that again, but at least you tried it, and it kept you alive in the minds of not only the audience but the people who are doing the casting,” White said.

For a lot of people, they remember when White was married to game-show host Allen Ludden. Ludden, who was White’s third husband, and White were married for 20 years. Ludden became known for hosting a number of different incarnations of the game show “Password.”

Sadly, Ludden was diagnosed with cancer in 1980 and died on June 9, 1981, at age 63.

White hasn’t remarried. Her career has continued to move forward, even at the young age of 99.