Though she spent the last couple of years before she passed away, in the last hours of 2021 just weeks shy of her 100th birthday, at her charming, yellow-shuttered traditional residence in L.A.’s tony Brentwood neighborhood, it was her rustic-modern home of 50 years, in the affluent and relaxed seaside community of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., where beloved Tinseltown icon Betty White preferred to hang her hat. Or maybe it’s where the 1995 TV Hall of Fame inductee kept the eight Emmys and trio of Screen Actor’s Guild Awards she earned over the course of her eight decades in show business.
In 1978, at the end of her scene-stealing turn as ferociously cheerful Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” White and her third husband, game show host Allen Ludden — they met in 1961 when she appeared as a celebrity guest on “Password,” paid $170,000 for a slightly more than quarter-acre parcel on a high bluff directly above Carmel Bay. They commissioned a three-story wood and glass home of more than 3,600 square feet, which was completed in 1981. Alas, Ludden died just a few days before their 18th wedding anniversary, after spending just a few nights in the newly finished home.
It wasn’t for several years after Ludden’s death that White landed what is arguably her most enduring role as lovably dimwitted Florida retiree Rose Nylund on the iconic, cult-favorite 1980s and ‘90s sitcom “Golden Girls.” White held on to and spent as much time as she could at the Carmel house, through dozens of film and television roles that garnered her a total of 21 Emmy nominations, four Golden Globe nominations, and a 2012 Grammy for the audio version of her memoir, “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t).” A tireless professional, White worked well into her nineties, lending her voice in 2019 as Bitey White in “Toy Story 4.”
Now, White’s beloved Carmel home has been set out for sale by her estate with Truszkowski Freedman & Associates of Sotheby’s Int’l Realty at $7.95 million.
Nestled into the land and all but invisible from the street but for the garage and roof, highlights of the wall-to-wall carpeted and wood-paneled home include: a series of ridge-line skylights in the wood-clad cathedral ceiling that fill the top-floor’s open-plan living spaces with natural light; a massive rough-cut stone fireplace in the living room; shoji screens that allow the dining area to be opened to or closed off from the kitchen. Huge picture windows frame photogenic ocean and coastline views across the bay, and glass sliders in the living and dining areas lead to a tiled terrace for taking in the salty sea air.
Promo materials show there are four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. And there are. However, more accurately the house is configured with just three bedrooms. In addition to a main-floor guest suite, there’s a full-floor master suite on the lower level that comprises a large bedroom with fireplace and attached bath, along with an adjoining sitting room with a second attached bath that allows it to easily be used as a bedroom. Below that is another very large bedroom with a sitting room, wood stove and en-suite bath.
Every room in the house has dreamy sunset and horizon views out over-sized windows, and an exterior staircase connects all three levels to the backyard, a hedged space with an aggregate patio amid pretty clumps of sculpted and flowering shrubs.
Often mistakenly referenced as being her house in Carmel, White gave a brief and characteristically cheeky, “Cribs” style tour of her comfortably appointed and fully up-to-date five-bedroom Brentwood home in 2017, showing off her “state-of-the-art aquarium” with its “priceless tropical fish collection” and her giant fridge full of gluten-free mac and cheese, coconut water, energy drinks, and hot dogs, which she — wink-wink — said were for the dogs.