Betty White was one of the most beloved celebrities of our time. As an actress and comedian, she was stunningly versatile. She managed to evolve her career over time in a way that allowed her to stay relevant and even cutting edge.
But the truth is, Betty managed to have such a long-lasting and ambitious career because she did things her own way from the very start. In some ways, she was a bit of rebel like that.
Perhaps Betty’s most rebellious act was one that wouldn’t be considered quite so radical now. But when the actress decided to focus on her career and not have children early on in her life, it was in every way an act of rebellion and liberation. It was also a choice she said she never regretted.
Almost all women during Betty’s time felt either the pressure or the call to have kids. But Betty had good reasons for not wanting children of her own. She opened up about it a few times over the years.
In 2021, she told CBS News that her choice had largely to do with her personality. “I’m so compulsive about stuff, I know if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would have been my whole focus. But I didn’t choose to have children because I’m focused on my career. And I just don’t think as compulsive as I am, that I could manage both.”
While many women who were actresses back in Betty’s day did want to focus on their careers early on, many of them went on to have children later. But Betty never caved to the pressure. She didn’t feel the need to settle down and have a family. She felt called to do her work, and so she kept working.
Betty fell in love with her husband Allen Ludden after being on the game show Password, of which Allen was the host. When they married in 1963, Betty became a stepmother to his three children, whose mother had died from cancer two years earlier.
The children were teenagers when their father married Betty. But being their stepmother became a role that Betty came to truly cherish, and she was fiercely protective of them.
Betty’s husband died in 1989. She would never remarry, another choice she felt pretty firm about. “When you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?” she told CBS.
Instead, Betty stayed true to her path. She kept working, appearing in TV shows and as a guest host on Saturday Night Live, a performance that won her an Emmy when she was 90 years old.
We’ll always remember Betty as a comedian with a quick wit, a bright smile, and endless optimism. But perhaps she will be best remembered as a rebellious woman who knew what she wanted and never molded to society’s expectations of her. That tenacity enabled her to truly live her life exactly as she intended.
What do you think?