My Mistake

Article excerpt

Byline: Interview by Marlow Stern

Betty White on the two bad marriages that led her to true love.

I've had two bad marriages, and I don't like to think of them as good mistakes. They were traumatizing to go through. You really feel like a failure when your marriage doesn't work. But they did make me appreciate it when the perfect one came along.

Back in those days--I'm pushing 90--you didn't sleep with a fella unless you married him. It was during World War II and I met this P-38 pilot, which was terribly romantic, and we were going to live just up the coast from Los Angeles. He didn't tell me he got mustered out, so instead of going up to our apartment in Santa Maria, we had to drive to Belle Center, Ohio, a town of 800 people. Belle Center was a chicken farm. We were living with his mom and dad, and they would send me out to kill a chicken to bring it in for dinner. I said, "No way!" That was a real trauma because I'm such an animal nut. I couldn't hack it, so I split and came back to California. We were married eight months, and it was a very bad mistake early on.

Then I met a wonderful man, Lane Allen. He was a theatrical agent, and we had a couple of very good years. But he wanted me to stop working. …