In an acting career that spanned over 75 years, White played beloved roles including Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” and Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” White, who was known as the “First Lady of Television,” won dozens of acting awards, including multiple Primetime Emmys, and she was nominated four times for a Golden Globe for her role in “The Golden Girls.”
White, born on January 17, 1922, was married three times, as Closer Weekly reported. Her first husband was Dick Barker, whom White married in 1945. Their marriage did not last long, however, and the two divorced the same year after moving to his small Ohio hometown, according to a 2018 biography of White by Chris Dicker.
Here’s what you need to know about Dick Barker:
1. Barker Was a Fighter Pilot in World War II & Met White Before Going Overseas
Barker, born on August 16, 1914, as Frederick Richard Barker, was a fighter pilot who served in World War II. White met Barker when she was a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Service (AWVS), according to Amo Mama.
White was a truck driver in the Hollywood Hills who delivered supplies to soldiers barracked there, The List reported. She told the outlet that her wartime service “was a strange time and out of balance with everything.”
While with the AWVS, White would attend the rec halls at night to dance and play games, according to her biography. It was there where she met Barker, and they became engaged in November 1942, before he went overseas to fight in the war.
2. White Left Farm Life With Barker for Hollywood
After World War II ended in 1945, White, who was 23 at the time, married Barker. According to Mental Floss, White lived on Barker’s rural Ohio chicken farm when they were married. The outlet reported that after four months, White fled back to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
White, who was a well-known animal lover, said in an interview with People in 1999 that living on the chicken farm was a “nightmare.”
Their marriage started and ended in the same year, 1945, marrying on July 7 and divorcing on December 18. In an interview with AARP in 2010, White revealed why she married Barker in the first place. She said, “I would not have married my first [husband]. I married my first because we wanted to sleep together. It lasted six months, and we were in bed for six months. [The marriage with Barker] helped me to appreciate the real thing when it came along.”
3. The Former Couple Never Had Children Together
White and Barker never had any children together. In fact, White never had any children with any of her husbands. White did raise three stepchildren, however, from her third marriage to Allen Ludden.
In a 2012 interview with Katie Couric on “CBS Sunday Morning,” White said that she had no regrets not having kids and explained why she never had any of her own. The actress said, “No, I’ve never regretted it. 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.”
4. White Married a Hollywood Agent After Leaving Barker
Two years after White and Barker split up, the actress married Lane Allen. Lane Allen was born Albert Edward Wootten in Toronto, Canada, on August 4, 1914. Allen was a Hollywood agent, casting director and actor. His IMDb profile lists Allen as an actor for many small roles, most notably the TV series “Police Story” in 1976.
He’s also known for his casting work on the TV series “Project U.F.O.” Allen’s obituary states that “during his long career in the entertainment industry, he acted in many roles while holding the position of Casting Director with Disney and MCA/Universal Studios.”
White and Allen married in 1947 and split up two years later, in 1949. According to some media reports, Allen wanted White to leave the entertainment industry to focus on building a family, which White opposed.
Allen remarried twice after his divorce from White. He died on August 5, 1995.
5. Barker Was Not the Love of White’s Life
White’s third marriage was to popular game show host Allen Ludden. The two met when White appeared on Ludden’s show “Password,” and they became friends. The two eventually started dating and married in 1963. They were together until Ludden’s death from stomach cancer in 1981. White never remarried.
She spoke publicly about her love for Ludden after his death. She told Larry King in 2014 that she would never get married again because “When you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”
White also spoke about her regret over her first two marriages to Barker and Allen. In an 2017 interview with Closer Weekly, White said, “I wish I didn’t have two bad marriages. They were probably my fault. I just didn’t marry the right men. … I had lovely relationships, but not anything in the league of Allen.”
In a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, White said, “I had 18 wonderful years with Allen Ludden. … The first two were rehearsals.”