Allen Packard Ellsworth was born October 5, 1917 in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
His father died January 6, 1919 as a victim of the worldwide influenza epidemic.
When he was about five years old, his mother married Homer Ludden and was given his adoptive father’s name becoming Allen Ellsworth Ludden.
Allen’s family eventually moved to Texas when he was still a small child.
Allen went on to attend the University of Texas as an English and drama major. He graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1940 and received his Masters degree in English in 1941.
Allen married Margaret McGloin October 11, 1943 and went on to have two sons and one daughter.
During World War II, Allen served in the U.S. Army, received a Bronze Star and was discharged with the rank of captain in 1946.
Allen went to work in radio, carving out a career as an adviser for youth both on the air and in teen magazine columns.
His radio show for teenagers, “Mind Your Manners” received a Peabody Award in 1950.
Then Allen Ludden began to host many daytime and prime time games shows, including the GE College Bowl.
His wife Margaret died from cancer on October 30, 1961.
Then Allen Ludden began hosting Password, a game show that aired between 1961 and 1967 on CBS.
He met Betty White on the show and they began dating.
Allen soon opened each show with the catch phrase, “Hi doll,” directed toward the beloved Tess White, mother of Betty White.
Betty White had been married twice before, and Allen had to proposed at least twice before she accepted.
Eventually, they were married on June 13, 1963.
Then CBS daytime head Fred Silverman decided to cancel Password by the spring of 1967. The cancellation occurred after squabbles over where the show would be taped (New York City or Hollywood). Silverman wanted the show permanently moved to CBS Television City in Hollywood.
By then, Allen and wife Betty White had moved to California. He commuted back to New York for the 1966–1967 season.
Allen ended each show with a “password of the day,” and then “So long, see you tomorrow, I hope.”
As producer Mark Goodson opposed a permanent move of the show to Hollywood, Silverman canceled the series on September 15, 1967.
Password moved over to ABC and aired an additional 1,099 daytime shows from April 5, 1971 to June 27, 1975.
Then in 1979, Allen began hosting an updated version of the game, Password Plus on NBC.
Soon after, Allen was diagnosed with stomach cancer and chemotherapy forced him to take a leave of absence for a month.
While on vacation in late October of 1980, Allen slipped into a coma. 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.
Allen’s good friend Tom Kennedy took over as host of Password Plus during this time, and while Allen hoped to return at some point in the future, his cancer grew worse 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.
Allen was buried beside his father in the Ellsworth family plot in Graceland Cemetery in his hometown of Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
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