The Pet Set (partially found Betty White talk show; 1971-1972)
The Pet Set is a television talk show that was hosted and produced by Betty White and her husband Allen Ludden and aired on multiple networks across the United States. The show was born from Betty White's longtime passion for animals, to which her husband challenged her to make and sell a show regarding it. After bringing the idea forward to the Carnation Company, her show was sponsored and began syndication in 1971.
Many high-profile celebrities took part in the show including Jimmy Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Doris Day, James Brolin, Vincent Price, and many more. According to Betty White in her autobiography, the show aired a total of thirty-nine episodes before having to be cancelled when Carnation Company decided to put their advertising budget exclusively to commercials rather than having an amount aside for programming. This statement lines up with newspapers as the show overall received positive reviews and ratings, and didn't show any signs of possible cancellation.
While the show did air in 1971, many sources and some individuals such as Bob Barker state that the show started airing in the late 1960's. However, this can be disproved as newspaper articles from late 1970 were anticipating the new show. On top of this, some believe that the series was cancelled due to Betty White taking the role of Sue Ann Nivens, though this is disproved in her autobiography where she explicitly states that is was due to Carnation Company's advertising budget allocation.
The series was generally separated into four different segments. In the first segment, Betty White would bring the guest star on stage and have them showcase their pets, which were more often than not dogs. After discussing pet-related topics with the celebrity guest, the show would transition to an informative segment on a select species. In the third segment, Betty White and her guest stars would talk with an animal expert. This expert would more often than not be from the now defunct Africa U.S.A. tourist attraction in California. The final segment of the show would feature Betty White, and sometimes her guest stars, outside in-person with a wild animal. Notable incidents involve a 500 pound Bengal Tiger, an active Black Bear, and an Asian Elephant.
To date, only the episode of the series featuring Doris Day is online. The episode is in low quality and is seemingly sourced from a Doris Day-centred DVD. The episode featuring Mary Tyler Moore is held at the Paley Center for Media, though it is limited to in-library screenings due to copyright concerns.
- Betty White's autobiography, where she details her experiences regarding The Pet Set in the second half of the 15th chapter. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- A newspaper article showing that the series had not yet been renewed, and that reruns were airing despite the 39 episodes being produced. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- A newspaper Q&A segment where Betty White states people would ask about the show all the time, indicating positive viewership. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- A newspaper page from October 1970 stating that Betty White's news show was set to air in the near future. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- A newspaper article detailing how the show was typically segmented into four different portions. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- The Paley Center holding for the Mary Tyler Moore guest episode. Retrieved 17 Sept '19