Dan White was born to George and Orpha White in Falmouth, Florida, one of thirteen siblings. The Whites moved to Lakeland during World War I. By age 14, White was in show business. He left home to travel thousands of miles throughout the South in tent, minstrel, vaudeville and theater shows. His brother Willard joined him for nine years in a show in Tampa's Rialto Theatre. Frances Langford worked with White during the time, and he convinced her to go to Hollywood. During this period, he met Tilda Spivey and proposed marriage on February 25, 1933. She had a 2-year-old child, Arthur Gifford, from a previous marriage. Dan left show business for financial reasons to work with the Civilian Conservation Corps. He still longed for a career in entertainment and took a cruise to Los Angeles. He and his family made extra stops at cities all over the country to earn money to continue the tour.