This week marked the 38th anniversary of the passing of the American Game Show host Allen Ludden. While the name may be unfamiliar to a British audience, his place in US pop culture history is safe; Thanks to his hosting of various versions of the game show Password between 1961 and 1980.
I first discovered him on Password Plus; His almost anti-game show host approach to his duties struck me. Intelligent, calm, smooth and displaying an air of authenticity that is sometimes lacking in the American game show host. It really felt as though what the audience saw was what you got, and that made him incredibly endearing for generations of viewers. Even as a modern consumer, his rugged charm and personable manner feel timeless. When Allen says, “See you tomorrow” with a cheeky glint in his eye, you feel as though he really means it; like a friend who can’t wait to see you again.
Despite his success in hosting various shows, Luddenis possibly best remembered in modern times for his marriage to Betty White from 1963 until his death in 1981. Meeting on Password in the early 60s, the couple’s appearances together are a joy to watch; comfortable, loving and just downright cute. White, when asked why she never remarried after Allen, said, “Once you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”.
Alongside Password, Ludden was also the first host of College Bowl. Allen’s student quiz was later adapted for the UK in the form of University Challenge. He also worked as an actor on stage, working in many productions. Several other appearances on TV include as a panellist on Match Game and as himself in The Odd Couple (Pictured).
They regularly show several versions of Password on American game show channel Buzzr. It’s a shame that Britain’s Challenge TV cannot get the rights to debut the American version in the UK; I can only dream!
RIP Allen Ludden: October 5, 1917 – June 9, 1981