Betty White: First Lady of Game Shows

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) 45th Annual Beastly Ball
FilmMagic / Getty Images

Betty White is a national treasure. A talented actress, writer, and comedienne, she has made her mark on numerous genres. She's beloved by fans in all the genres she's worked in, but none more than those who treasure her support and involvement with game shows.

Her first game show appearance was in 1955 as a panelist on a little-known and short-lived show called "Make the Connection," hosted by Gene Rayburn. Since then she's been so successful in the genre that she's been nicknamed the First Lady of Game Shows. She won a Lifetime Achievement Emmy for her game show participation, and that's the focus of this list of accomplishments.

'To Tell the Truth'

White shines as a celebrity panelist on any game show. She was a frequent guest on "To Tell the Truth," the game that placed one "real" person among two imposters and challenged the celebrity panel to determine who the real personality was. White joined some of the biggest names in showbiz at the time—Johnny Carson, Kitty Carlisle and Dick Van Dyke, just to name a few—and became a favorite with viewers.

'What's My Line?'

Another panel show, "What's My Line?," presented contestants with unusual occupations. The celebs asked a series of "yes" or "no" questions in an attempt to determine what the contestant did for a living. White's appearances on the panel, starting in 1955, showcased her quick wit and easy charm. She became one of the first panelists that producers would turn to when a new game show was looking for celebrity contestants.


White's success as a game show panelist led her to star on "Password," the gig that would change her life. Of course, she was exceptional at the game itself—this time she actually got to play a challenging word game rather than just act as a panelist, and she proved to be a formidable opponent. More importantly, though, White met, fell in love with and married the show's host, Allen Ludden. Their romance is one of the most heart-warming stories in the world of game shows, and indeed in all of Hollywood lore.

'The Match Game'

"The Match Game" became one of the most popular classic game shows on the planet, and it's easy to see why. The game itself wasn't exceptional—the real draw was the celebrity panel that seemed to have more fun than any other cast on television. White appeared with the likes of Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Summers, and the comedy that came out of this show was top-notch. Viewers were guaranteed to laugh during every episode.

'Password Plus'

After the original "Password" went on hiatus, a new version of the show appeared in 1979. Once again, White was asked to play, and she did with gusto. Ludden also returned to host the show.

'Just Men!'

While ​"Just Men!" ​never really made the big time as a classic game show, it was notable for one very good reason—its host. White earned the first Daytime Emmy Award given to a woman for Outstanding Game Show Host in 1983. She would be followed eventually by ​"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" host Meredith Vieira in 2005.

'Super Password'

By 1984 it was impossible to imagine any iteration of "Password" without White as a celebrity player. When the show was once again revamped as "Super Password," White was front and center. Ludden died in 1981, so it was bittersweet to have White on the show without him at the helm.


It was really only a matter of time before White would appear on "Pyramid," a show with many similarities to her beloved "Password." White was a frequent celebrity contestant on "The $10,000 Pyramid" starting in 1982, returning for a brief stint on the reworked version of "Pyramid" in 2002.

'Million Dollar Password'

In 2008 "Password" was reinvented once again as "Million Dollar Password." Fans went nuts when it was confirmed that ​​White would be returning to the game. She outshone the rest of the celebrity lineup, proving that she was just as sharp in 2008 as she was in the 1960s.

Other Games

As if all of these shows weren't enough, White has appeared in a long list of other game shows. Here's a quick rundown of some of the other games she's been involved with:

  • "Chain Letter"
  • "Liar's Club"
  • "You Don't Say"
  • "The Cross-Wits"
  • "The Hollywood Squares"
  • "Chain Reaction'
  • "Trivia Trap"
  • "​Family Feud"
  • "Body Language"
  • "Double Talk"
  • "Win, Lose or Draw"

It's clear that White is the best-known celebrity name in game shows, and there's no doubt that she has earned her title as the first lady of the genre. Not only is she engaging and fun to watch, but she is also genuinely good at all of the games she plays.