The late Betty White’s 80-year career in show business earned her eight Emmys, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Grammy and three American Comedy Awards. She was the first woman to write, produce and act in a sitcom, Life With Elizabeth, and earned global fame as the much-loved Rose on The Golden Girls.
And when “the Queen of TV" needed to decompress, she would retreat to her beach house in California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea, which she built with her husband, Allen Ludden, in 1978. Ludden was also a TV personality and hosted the popular game show Password, which is where the pair met. He died in 1981 and White vowed to never marry again, since, she said, she had already had the best.
Together the two created this beautiful home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos Nature Reserve, Ribera Beach and Monastery Beach. They enlisted architect Richard Hicks to design the property on Ribera Road. Covering 3,621-square-feet, the three-storey home is open, light and airy, featuring glass walls and natural materials such as a stone for some of the walls and fireplaces, and light wood for some walls and ceilings.
It is an ode to the couple’s love of nature, offering views out over the property’s extensive grounds and the rugged landscapes beyond.
The key details
The four-bedroom property is listed for $7.9 million by Sotheby’s International Realty, Carmel. The primary suite also has a fireplace, while the en-suite bathroom has a vanity that was designed by White herself.
A multifunctional dining room looks out over the deck and ocean, and can be used informally, while open to the kitchen or closed off for more formal occasions. A muted colour scheme and minimalist decor throughout the property allows the views to take centre stage.
The property’s garden features manicured landscaping with grass, shrubs and flower beds. Just beyond are craggy shoreline rocks, while a white-sand beach can be seen to the left, and runs the length of the property below the cliff. In addition to ocean views, there is also a forested hillside rising above the ocean.
What’s the story
A small beach city on California's Monterey Peninsula, Carmel was founded in 1902. Today, it offers some of the finest scenery in the world, as well as historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, boutiques and charming hotels and inns.
Its rich artistic history is dotted with quirky anecdotes, including a law in 1963 that made high heels illegal in Carmel-by-the-Sea unless wearers were granted a special permit. A municipal code banned shoes with heels higher than five centimetres or with a base of less than 2.5cm squared. The law was created by the city attorney to defend it from lawsuits as wearers of high-heeled shoes regularly tripped over irregular pavements distorted by tree roots.
The area has been home to a number of Hollywood stars, including screenwriter and novelist Robert Wright Campbell, actress Doris Day and Clint Eastwood, who was elected mayor of Carmel in 1986.
The broker says …
“Meander through your storybook garden in Carmel, one of America's stunning jewels, as you gaze at the horizon from your rare, oceanfront estate,” reads the listing on the Sotheby’s International Realty website.
“Situated on sought-after Ribera Road, this mid-century masterpiece displays panoramic ocean views from nearly every room, thanks to the genius of architect Richard Hicks.”