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30 ‘Golden Girls’ Facts Every True Fan Should Know

NBC’s “The Golden Girls” ran between 1985 and 1992, gifting us with 180 episodes that were packed with life lessons and zippy exchanges between its unforgettable cast members. Thanks to reruns and the fact that Hulu streams all seven seasons, the fab foursome (Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche and Rose) are enjoying a second wave of fandom.

The sitcom broke from TV tradition with not just a female-led cast, but one dominated by older women. One impressive fact: all four lead actresses (Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White) each won Emmy awards for their roles. But, we’re just getting started!

Grab a slice of cheesecake and indulge in 30 more facts that every “Golden Girls” super-fan should know.

There Was A Major Role Swap

Can you imagine Betty White as a sultry Southern belle? The producers originally had White picked to play Blanche Devereaux, but thought the character would be too similar to her role as the “neighborhood nymphomaniac,” Sue Anne Nivens, on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Instead, Rue McClanahan landed the role and White was cast as the endearing, albeit naive, Rose Nylund.

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The Queen Loved The Show

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was a fan of the Golden Girls and invited them to perform at the 1988 Royal Variety Performance in London. The cast accepted and re-enacted a pair of scenes, although censored themselves some for the show.

“We’ll do about seven minutes from the show, but we’ll have to censor a few things for the queen,” said Bea Arthur at the time. Get ready to grab your pearls and gasp because a quip about Dorothy’s lackluster sex life made it in, and the Queen reportedly laughed at it.

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The Girls Didn’t Hang Out Much Off Set

One exception: Estelle Getty had a birthday party every June and they’d get together, according to information mined by Glamour from an interview Rue McClanahan did with the Archive of American Television.

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Estelle Getty Had Serious Stage Fright

So much so that she’d often freeze during the tapings, cast members recalled. She was the least-experienced actor in the main cast.

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A Character Got Nixed

The original pilot included a gay male character played by Charles Levin. The character, a butler, was well-received by the audience, according to the Huffington Post, but was cut from the show because of time limitations.

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Estelle Getty Wasn’t The Oldest Golden Girl

That esteemed title would go to Betty White, who, ironically, is the only one of the quartet still living. Getty played the sassy matriarch role, but she was actually younger than Bea Arthur, who was cast as her daughter. Rue McClanahan was by far the youngest cast member, being born more than 12 years before White.

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Elaine Stritch Auditioned To Play Dorothy

The Broadway icon didn’t get the role, which eventually went to Bea Arthur, which makes sense considering the role of Dorothy was described as a “Bea Arthur-type.” When Arthur first read the script, she said she thought it was “brilliant,” according to her interview with the Archive of American Television. “I thought it was one of the funniest, most adult, hilarious, sophisticated, terrific, delicious things I had ever read.”

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Bea Arthur’s Ears Weren’t Pierced

Those statement earrings she was always wearing? They were clip-ons!

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Estelle Getty Did Stand-Up Comedy

Getty’s character, Sophia Petrillo, was known to lob witty insults and deliver sharp one-liners. She was primed for it! In her late teens Getty performed stand-up comedy. According to NPR, Getty performed at a Catskills hotel in New York — but female comedians were a rarity at the time and she flopped.

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Betty White Loved Appearing On Game Shows

White was a fan of television game shows. In the 1950s, she competed on shows including “What’s My Line?,” “Make the Connection” and “Password,” which is where she met Allen Ludden, her future husband and the host of the show, according to the Television Academy Foundation.

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Bea Arthur Didn’t Like Cheesecake

Cheesecake was pretty much the fifth main character on the show. The Golden Girls ate a lot of it. But Arthur was reportedly not a fan of the dessert.

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The Show Had A Cheesecake Chef

George Geary is the author of several books about cheesecake, including “The 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes” and “The Cheesecake Bible.” His other claim to fame? He made all the cheesecakes that were used for props on “The Golden Girls.” According to CNN, that could be as many as seven cheesecakes for a single taping!

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The Cast Included Serious Animal Activists

Betty White, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan were each passionate animal-rights activists.

White turned down a role in the Oscar-winning movie “As Good as It Gets” because there was a scene in which a character throws a dog down a garbage chute. In her book “If You Ask Me (and Of Course You Won’t),” White recalled saying: “I just can’t do that! I know it’s for laughs but given my feelings about animals and my work for animal welfare, I just didn’t find it funny.”

During their lives, Arthur and McClanahan worked with PETA.

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Estelle Getty Was Especially Frugal

So much so that her Toyota Tercel was towed out of her parking space at the “The Golden Girls” production lot because security thought someone had stolen her space, according to her son Carl Gettleman. He relayed the anecdote at Getty’s funeral in 2008.

“The Great Depression left an indelible impression on mom,” Gettleman said, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

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Bea Arthur And Betty White Clashed

Bea Arthur apparently wasn’t a fan of Betty White.

“She found me a pain in the neck sometimes,” White once said in an interview. “It was my positive attitude — and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious!”

Perhaps we were over-estimating the power of cheesecake?

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Estelle Getty’s Makeup Took A Lot Of Work

Adding 20 years or so was no easy feat! The show’s makeup crew routinely spent 45 minutes making Getty look older and transforming her into the sassy little lady that was Sophia.

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It’s Just Betty

Betty White’s name isn’t short for Elizabeth; it’s simply Betty!

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Bea Arthur Had An Interesting Contract Clause

Not only did Arthur not like cheesecake, she also didn’t like wearing shoes.

“She had it written into her contract that she was allowed to not wear shoes as long as she agreed not to sue the producers if she hurt herself,” Jim Colucci, author of “Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai,” told Fox News.

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Rue McClanahan Got To Keep Blanche’s Wardrobe

Speaking of contract clauses, McClanahan got to raid Blanche’s wardrobe closet! In all, she made off with 500 pieces. That’s a lot of sexy lingerie and shoulder-padded blazers!

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Mario Lopez Was On The Show

You likely know him and his dimples best from “Saved by the Bell,” but before that, Lopez was a guest star in an episode from 1987. He played the role of a student being tutored by Dorothy.

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George Clooney Was Also On The Show

Clooney played a detective investigating a suspected jewel thief in a season two episode, “To Catch a Neighbor.”

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It Took Estelle Getty Three Auditions To Get The Part

Getty very nearly didn’t make the cut of “The Golden Girls,” according to NPR. She was in her early 60s and didn’t look old enough to play 80-year-old Sophia. When she arrived to her third audition, she wore dowdy clothes and told the makeup artist that her career was on the line if she couldn’t be transformed into an older woman.

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Rue McClanahan Was Just As Sassy In Real Life

When Colucci was working on his aforementioned book, he showed up to interview McClanahan and she answered the door in a very Blanche way, according to Glamour.

“She answered the door fresh from the shower, in a bathrobe that looked like it was about to fall open!” the author said in an interview.

Getty Images | Mark Mainz

The Table Was A Chair Short

When the ladies debrief over cheesecake, take note: there are only three chairs around the table. If there were four, someone would have had their back to the camera.

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Dorothy’s Last Name Was Borrowed

Dorothy’s last name, “Zbornak,” was plucked from stage manager Kent Zbornak. Zbornak is still active in Hollywood, recently working as a producer on shows including “The Office” and Hulu’s “Casual.”

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Betty White Holds A Guinness World Record

Having started her career in 1939, she’s spent almost eight decades in show business. In 2013, White was awarded the Guinness World Record for Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female).

Getty Images | Jesse Grant

Bea Arthur Didn’t Act Much After The Show Ended

She did appear as a guest star on shows including “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Getty Images | Charley Gallay

Estelle Getty Hated Doing Death Scenes

When promoting her book “If You Ask Me,” Betty White dished that her co-star Getty despised death and funeral scenes.

“Death frightened her very much. It was almost a phobia,” White said.

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It’d Take Nearly Three Days To Binge The Entire Series

Does this list have you wanting to re-watch some “Golden Girls” episodes or even binge-watch the whole series? It’s doable in a long weekend (provided you didn’t sleep!). It would take about two days and 18 hours to watch the entire series on Hulu.

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The Show’s Opening Theme Was Sung By A Jingle Singer

“The Golden Girls” classic opening song “Thank You for Being a Friend” was sung by Cindy Fee, who was best known for singing TV jingles, like the one for Hoover vacuums (“Nobody does it like you”) and Pontiac Cars (“Get on your Pontiac and ride”), according to a history of the theme song that was published in The Atlantic.

The Song Wasn’t Written For The Show

Musician Andrew Gold wrote, recorded and released “Thank You For Being a Friend” as a single in 1978, discounting it as a “just this little throwaway thing.” He once said the song took an hour or so to write, according to The Atlantic.

— — Thirty years ago today, “The Golden Girls” premiered on television.

The series, starring Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan as four women sharing a Miami home, was an instant hit — and eventually won all four of its stars Emmys.

“It was so exciting to be with four people with that chemistry. I’ll never forget that first read,” White once told DVD Talk. “That just continued through the series. It was such a pleasure to see four professionals who knew good material and respected it.”

The chemistry between the four actresses is obvious to anyone who’s watched the show, but here are a few facts that even the biggest “Golden Girls” fan might not know.

1. The original pilot had a butler that didn’t make it to the series.

2. Many of the stars worked with each other before. Arthur and McClanahan were friends on “Maude” and White and McClanahan collaborated on “Mama’s Family.”

3. The series had several writing teams which may account for the huge difference in number and names of kids, different relatives, and character histories between seasons.

4. The layout of the house also changed.

5. The theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend,” was originally written and recorded by Andrew Gold. For the show, however, Cynthia Fee sang.

6. Elaine Stritch auditioned for the part of Dorothy, but claimed that the writer didn’t like her very much. “I didn’t get the job,” she said. “I blew a multi-million, zillion dollar, international, syndicated, residual-grabbing, bopparoni, smasharoni, television situation comedy entitled, ‘The Golden Girls’!”

7. Arthur auditioned for “Golden Girls” after Dorothy was described initially as “a Bea Arthur-type.” “I thought it was brilliant,” she told the Archive of American Television of reading the first script. “I thought it was one of the funniest, most adult, hilarious, sophisticated, terrific, delicious things I had ever read.”

8. McClanahan remembered things a bit differently. She said that Susan Harris, the show’s co-executive producer, asked her to persuade Arthur to take the part, as she kept turning it down. “I said, ‘Why are you turning down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?’ and she said, ‘Rue, I have no interest in playing Maude and Vivian meets Sue Ann Nevins.’” Eventually, McClanahan explained that she was going to play Blanche and White was going to play Rose, and that piqued Arthur’s interest.

9. Arthur’s confusion would have been understandable. Originally, the part of Blanche was offered to White, and McClanahan was given the part of Rose. Eventually, they switched.

10. According to the New York Times, Getty won the role of Sophia after she showed up to the audition looking like “a little old lady.”

11. Still, Getty was not the oldest “Golden Girl” in real life. That title belongs to White.

12. According McClanahan, Getty, a Jewish woman, tried to make her character Sophia’s backstory more in sync with her own life. “She kept saying, ‘Can’t we make these characters Jewish?!’ She would’ve felt so much more comfortable than trying to be Italian,” she recalled. “Although, I mean, it worked.”

13. Unlike her character, Arthur hated cheesecake.

14. The queen mum was a huge fan of the show. The stars actually performed for her.

15. McClanahan wrote in her memoir that Sir Laurence Olivier was a fan of the series, too.

16. In a talk show interview, McClanahan and Getty said it took nine hours to rehearse an episode.

17. “Golden Girls” hit many controversial topics for its time including AIDS, gay marriage, and teen pregnancy.

18. Getty said in one interview that she was choosy about what Sophia would say. “I have a thing about gratuitous pain,” she said. “Why would you make fun of somebody who’s fat or who’s cross-eyed or who’s bald? And I won’t do gay-bashing jokes.” She also rejected a joke once that had a punchline relating to domestic violence.

19. White, a frequent game show competitor, would play word games with equally competitive McClanahan between takes.

20. McClanahan had a clause in her contract to keep all her clothes.

21. She also wasn’t super-close with Arthur. “Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on. Bea is a very, very eccentric woman. She wouldn’t go to lunch unless Betty would go with her,” McClanahan said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “She was very dependent on keeping everything as it always had been, and I was anything but that.”

22. Getty had horrible stage fright in front of live audiences.

23. Arthur said that one of her favorite scenes was with Getty in which they dressed as Sonny and Cher and sang “I Got You Babe.” “Oh God, it was fun,” she told the Archive of American Television.

24. Many actors guest-starred on the show including Leslie Nielsen, Caesar Romero, Sonny Bono, Lyle Wagner, and even George Clooney.

25. Every character was engaged or married in the show. Dorothy got married and moved in the final episode.

26. According to reports, 27.2 million people watched the show’s 1992 series finale.

27. “Golden Girls” spawned two spin-offs: “Empty Nest” and “Golden Palace.” The “Empty Nest” pilot was an episode on “Golden Girls” featuring Rita Moreno. “Golden Palace” was the show that came after the “Golden Girls” featuring three of the four stars. (Arthur passed.)

28. McClanahan wrote in her memoir, “My Five Husbands… and the Ones Who Got Away” that she proposed the idea of having a fourth roommate replace Dorothy in “Golden Palace,” but the producers rejected the idea. “‘The Golden Girls’ was already in syndication which is where the producers make the megabucks,” she wrote. “This new show only had to last three seasons to go into syndication. More megabucks. But it was too big a gamble in my opnion, which of course, counted for a flea’s fart.” “Golden Palace” was canceled after one season.

29. McClanahan also wrote that all three actresses involved in “Golden Palace” made the same salary.

30. Betty White is the only living “Golden Girl.” Estelle Getty died in 2008 at 84 from Lewy body dementia, Bea Arthur died of cancer at 86 in 2009, and Rue McClanahan died at 76 in 2010 from a stroke.

(Associated Press)

If you flip through the channels tonight, chances are you’ll catch a series about four feisty older women tackling love, sex and friendship in the big city. (Sorry Carrie Bradshaw, but we’re not talking about that show.)

When “The Golden Girls” premiered over 30 years ago, on Sept. 14, 1985, audiences were introduced to Southern belle Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) and her roommates Rose Nylund (Betty White), Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) and Dorothy’s mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty).

This classic American sitcom, which was nicknamed “Miami Nice,” racked up 68 Emmy nominations and 11 wins throughout its run. Since then, it has continued to garner high praise — in fact, it’s currently listed as #69 on Deadline’s ranking of the “101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.” And while White is the only living Golden Girl left, the show’s legacy certainly lives on, bringing laughs to both old fans and new.

So now, because we all have “Thank You for Being a Friend” stuck in our heads, we’ve rounded up 10 unique facts about “The Golden Girls.” See how well you really know this fabulous foursome:

#1. Estelle Getty’s massive transformation to become Sophia Petrillo

Getty, who was younger than both Bea Arthur and Betty White, underwent a three-hour transformation to become the 80-year-old sassy Sicilian. “When she first sits down in the chair, she’s just Estelle, a nice, lovely lady,” said makeup artist Maurice Stein in the February 1988 issue of Orange Coast Magazine. “But as the makeup goes on, she becomes this snappy old lady, wise-cracking and crusty. She seems to slum down in her chair and really get into character. By the time she gets up from her chair, I have Sophia on my hands.”

#2. A British royal was a fan

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was such a fan of the series that she requested the cast give a command performance on Nov. 21, 1988. However, the racy dialogue the show was famous for had to be toned down a notch. “We’ll do about seven minutes from the show, but we’ll have to censor a few things for the queen,” said Arthur at the time.

#3. One Golden Girl hated cheesecake

Not all the girls love the sweet stuff. While it was reported that the characters allegedly consumed more than 100 cheesecakes during the seven-year run of the show, one of them detested the dessert. “In real life, Bea hates cheesecake!” said her webmaster Kevin Buckstiegel while she was promoting her one-woman show in 2006. According to “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes From More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen,” Arthur’s take on breakfast was actually a vegetarian one featuring roasted mushrooms.

#4. Home was California, not Miami

Blanche and her roommates may have called Miami home, but their ranch-style property was actually located in California. A house at 245 N. Saltair Avenue in Brentwood was used as a model for the girls’ dwelling. Los Angeles magazine revealed that an exact replica of the home’s façade was later built on Residential Street at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, and was used for exterior images during the series’ later years. The street and its sets were torn down in 2003 to make room for a stunt show, but the private Brentwood residence is still standing. And in case you’re wondering, the girls’ address, 6151 Richmond Street in Miami, isn’t real.

#5. St. Olaf is sort of real

While their Miami residence doesn’t exist, Rose’s infamous St. Olaf does … sort of. There is no such Norwegian town in Minnesota, but a St. Olaf Township does exist in the state. There is also a St. Olaf College located on St. Olaf Avenue in Minnesota, which was founded by Norwegian immigrants in 1874. It offers a “robust program in Scandinavian culture, including Norwegian language classes, Nordic film studies and Viking history courses.”

#6. Elaine Stritch rejected a leading role

When Susan Harris wrote the pilot script for “The Golden Girls,” she described the character of Dorothy as a “Bea Arthur type.” However, the role may have gone to actress Elaine Stritch — had she not screwed up her audition by throwing out an F-bomb. “Who really gave a s— about playing some old broad who settles in Miami with two other old broads and their mother?” she later joked in her one-woman show.

#7. Blanche’s accent changed in the series

Fans of “The Golden Girls” may notice that Blanche, originally from Atlanta, Georgia, did not have much of a Southern accent in the pilot episode. That’s because director Jay Sandrich told McClanahan to instead rely on her “regular Oklahoma accent.” However, when director Paul Bogart later came on board, he wanted McClanahan to use the Southern accent. Later, McClanahan revealed she created an exaggerated take on a sultry Southern accent — one she thought might easily lure men. “It’s funny,” said McClanahan. “ didn’t think she was funny, but I thought she was funny.”

#8. Rue McClanahan launched a lingerie line for real-life “needy sexy people”

Perhaps McClanahan was inspired by a third-season episode called “My Brother, My Father” — in which Blanche pretended to collect lingerie for “needy sexy people” — when she started her own clothing line on QVC. In McClanahan’s 2007 memoir, “My First Five Husbands … And the Ones Who Got Away,” she remembered launching “A Touch of Rue.” “I selected fabrics I loved and designed Blanche-inspired garments with my own practical spin, making the exquisite Blanche creations wearable in real life and available at affordable prices.” (According to her, the silky gown-peignoir sets “sold out in minutes.”) As for Blanche’s actual couture? McClanahan was allowed to keep about 500 of her “Golden Girls” costumes, which were stored in her New York apartment.

#9. A Floridian term became popular

“The Golden Girls” introduced viewers across the nation to a word Floridians were already very familiar with: “Lanai.” A lanai is described as an enclosed porch within a more tropical setting, featuring casual tables and chairs. In the season 2 episode, “A Piece of Cake,” Sophia learns about it for herself along with the viewers:

Dorothy: We’re having a surprise birthday party for Blanche. Why don’t you go out to the lanai and mingle with the guests?

Sophia: OK! What’s a lanai?

Dorothy: Porch!

Sophia: Well, excuse me, Krystle Carrington!

#10. Bea Arthur may not have been so “Miami nice”

Dorothy frequently picking on Rose may not have been an act. In real life, Arthur had an “intense dislike” for White. According to White, Arthur found her to be a “pain in the neck” because of her constant cheery attitude. McClanahan believed their opposite takes on acting may have been a contributing factor, too. “Bea came from a New York stage point of view,” explained McClanahan. “She always had what we call ‘the fourth wall.’ And Betty came from a television point of view. She would flirt with the audience, and pull her skirt up and say, ‘Hi sailor.’ But Bea never acknowledged the audience.” McClanahan also admitted that Arthur never actually revealed why she couldn’t get along with White.

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  • LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 12: Actress Estelle Getty and manager/producer Alan Siegel attends the 12th Annual Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Convention and Expo on July 12, 1993 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Year: 1992 USA Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty Director: Roger Spottiswoode
  • Studio Publicity Still from ‘The Golden Girls’ Estelle Getty, Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White 1988 All Rights Reserved File Reference # 31694052THA For Editorial Use Only
  • STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT UNIVERSAL PICTURES SYLVESTER STALLONE, ESTELLE GETTY Date: 1991
  • Jan. 4, 2006 – K7489TR.West Coast Jewish Theatre Tribute .Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty. Tom Rodriguez – 1997.BEAARTHURRETRO(Credit Image: © Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT
  • Original Film Title: THE GOLDEN GIRLS. English Title: GOLDEN GIRLS, THE-TV. Film Director: SUSAN HARRIS. Year: 1985. Stars: BETTY WHITE; ESTELLE GETTY; BEA ARTHUR; RUE MCCLANAHAN. Credit: TOUCHSTONE TELEVISION / Album
  • STUART LITTLE (1999) ESTELLE GETTY STLT 051
  • 1992, Film Title: GOLDEN PALACE. (Credit Image: SNAP)
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY.f7691.(Credit Image: © Donald Sanders/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Swaray Where: Los Angeles, California, USA When: 07 Feb 2013
  • LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 12: Actress Estelle Getty and manager/producer Alan Siegel attends the 12th Annual Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Convention and Expo on July 12, 1993 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot Year 1992 Director Roger Spottiswoode Estelle Getty
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Jan. 4, 2006 – Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McLanahan, with Bob Hope. Ralph Dominguez- 1989.BEAARTHURRETRO(Credit Image: © Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • Original Film Title: THE GOLDEN GIRLS. English Title: GOLDEN GIRLS, THE-TV. Film Director: SUSAN HARRIS. Year: 1985. Stars: BETTY WHITE; ESTELLE GETTY; BEA ARTHUR; RUE MCCLANAHAN. Credit: TOUCHSTONE TELEVISION / Album
  • STUART LITTLE (1999) JEFFREY JONES, ESTELLE GETTY STLT 062
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY.f6901.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Swaray Where: Los Angeles, California, USA When: 07 Feb 2013
  • Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot Year 1992 Director Roger Spottiswoode Estelle Getty
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Jan. 4, 2006 – Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Betty White, and.Rue McClanahan.”Golden Girls” Cast. Michael Ferguson- 1990.BEAARTHURRETRO(Credit Image: © Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • July 23, 2008 – New York, New York, U.S. – 16167.ESTELLE GETTY AND SON BARRY. – 1991. ESTELLEGETTYRETRO(Credit Image: © Judie Burstein/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • Original Film Title: THE GOLDEN GIRLS. English Title: GOLDEN GIRLS, THE-TV. Film Director: SUSAN HARRIS. Year: 1985. Stars: LESLIE NIELSEN; BETTY WHITE; ESTELLE GETTY; BEA ARTHUR; RUE MCCLANAHAN. Credit: TOUCHSTONE TELEVISION / Album
  • November 9, 1996; Hollywood, CA, USA; Actress ESTELLE GETTY attends the Caring for Babies with AIDS Stroll-a-Thon held at Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills, CA. (Michelson – Karnbad/1996) Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michelson/ZUMA Press. (©) Copyright 2006 Michelson
  • GOLDEN GIRLS (TV) RUE MCCLANAHAN, ESTELLE GETTY, BETTY WHITE, BEA ARTHUR GLG 008
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY.f6778.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Swaray Where: Los Angeles, California, USA When: 07 Feb 2013
  • Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot Year 1992 Director Roger Spottiswoode Sylvester Stallone Estelle Getty
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • GOLDEN GIRLS (TV) ESTELLE GETTY, BEA ARTHUR, RUE MCCLANAHAN, BETTY WHITE GLG 007
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY with Merv Griffin and Betty White.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 2 March, 2009. Estelle Parsons at the 24th annual Women’s Project gala at The Pierre Hotel. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Swaray Where: Los Angeles, California, USA When: 07 Feb 2013
  • Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot Year 1992 Director Roger Spottiswoode Sylvester Stallone Estelle Getty
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • ESTELLE GETTY wtih Cybill Shepherd.f2126.(Credit Image: © Bob V. Noble/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 2 March, 2009. Estelle Parsons at the 24th annual Women’s Project gala at The Pierre Hotel. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Swaray Where: Los Angeles, California, USA When: 07 Feb 2013
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • ESTELLE GETTY.l0629.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 2 March, 2009. Estelle Parsons at the 24th annual Women’s Project gala at The Pierre Hotel. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • Delta Air Lines celebrate LA’s Music Industry with Getty House reception at The Getty House Featuring: Estelle Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 07 Feb 2013
  • UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actresses Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan attend the 29th Annual Publicists Guild of America Luncheon on March 27, 1992 at Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City, California. Photo by Barry King/Alamy Stock Photo
  • ESTELLE GETTY.l3022.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 2 March, 2009. Estelle Parsons at the 24th annual Women’s Project gala at The Pierre Hotel. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle, Christian Siriano at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY.f3162.(Credit Image: © Ralph Dominguez/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle, Christian Siriano at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy
  • ESTELLE GETTY 1992.l3302.(Credit Image: © Lisa Rose/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
  • New York, USA. 29 April, 2008. Estelle, Christian Siriano at the record release party for Estelle’s ‘Shine’ at Suzy Wong’s. Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy

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Where Is the ‘Golden Girls’ Cast Now?

There really isn’t any other TV show in history with an older cast that’s still as loved today as The Golden Girls. When NBC debuted the show in 1985, there was already a bias against older demographics in the rating system. Nevertheless, how could NBC executives say no to an ensemble sitcom with Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty?

Latter wasn’t quite as well known yet when the show began, but she quickly became a favorite while fooling everyone into thinking she was older than she really was.

Nowadays, you see college-age adults still falling in love with The Golden Girls on streaming and in cable reruns. If only the entire cast were still alive to see that. Thankfully, one still is.

What happened to Bea Arthur after ‘The Golden Girls’ ended?

The Golden Girls | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Not many people remember there was a brief spinoff series to The Golden Girls in 1992 called The Golden Palace that had the women moving to a Miami hotel they invest in. It turned out the hotel is stripped of its staff other than two, leaving the “girls” to figure out to make the hotel profitable.

By this point, the already iconic Arthur decided not to participate in this show because her character (Dorothy) had married and moved away. However, Arthur did appear as Dorothy in a two-part episode during the season.

— LandOfThe80s (@landofthe80) May 13, 2019

This show wasn’t nearly as popular and was canceled in 1993. For Arthur, she’d become a TV legend but only decided to make guest appearances on talk/variety shows/sitcoms for the rest of her life. Her real love was for the Broadway stage where she cut her teeth originally in showbiz before finding success with Norman Lear’s Maude in the ’70s. She found more success on Broadway during the 1990s and 2000s.

Her death in 2009 was the end of an era that included Arthur conquering virtually every entertainment medium.

What happened to Rue McClanahan after ‘The Golden Girls’ ended?

“The Golden Girls” ended 27 years ago this week! Here’s a look back at this sweet interview with Betty White and Rue McClanahan. #FlashbackFriday #TODAYFlashback pic.twitter.com/pEzPbg8exu

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 10, 2019

There isn’t a doubt McClanahan was one of the great comedic character actresses of her generation. Everyone knew her as a familiar face on dozens of sitcoms in the decades prior to landing her role as Blanche Devereaux.

We all guffawed when the writers of The Golden Girls made Blanche a dirty 60-something woman. Well, the entire cast had elements of that, which made it so hilarious and real.

McClanahan’s movie, TV, and stage credits are as voluminous as Arthur’s, including winning awards in all three categories. Despite her Blanche character becoming legendary, she kept working through the 1990s and 2000s, right up to a year before her death.

She suffered a series of health setbacks in the late 2000s, including breast cancer and then a stroke. Her death in 2010 from a cerebral hemorrhage was sudden and made it a sad occasion being the third Golden Girl to pass in close succession.

What happened to Estelle Getty after ‘The Golden Girls’ ended?

Estelle Getty aka Sofia from the Golden Girls. pic.twitter.com/S6BBYziA2c

— History In Snaps (@HistoryInSnaps) October 23, 2015

If you wondered who passed first from the original cast, it was indeed Getty in 2008 at age 84. There’s a bit of sad irony to the fact three of the original Golden Girls died a year apart from one another between 2008-2010.

After The Golden Palace ended, Getty is the only actress from the show to continue her role of Sophia Petrillo for a couple more years. Those of you who remember the NBC sitcom Empty Nest may remember when the show used Sophia as a recurring sideline character. She’d moved back to her retirement home we’d heard had burned during The Golden Girls years.

This means the Sophia character was extant on TV for a decade from 1985-1995. Getty stayed active for a while afterward, acting in a few movies and TV projects until retiring in 2000 due to a Lewy body dementia diagnosis.

What happened to Betty White after ‘The Golden Girls’ ended?

Oh, and Happy #NationalHotDogDay too! #BettyWhite ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Iunw2JeHfe

— Bloomex (@Bloomex_canada) July 17, 2019

No one can disagree on White being the most beloved comedic celebrity of all time. The things she’s done since The Golden Girls days is beyond measure, though we can notably put Hot in Cleveland as a highlight of many while showcasing her comedic abilities into her 90s.

At age 97 this year, White isn’t slowing down, including having a voice cameo in Toy Story 4 playing “Bitey White.” Everyone is rooting for her to make it to 100 so we can celebrate one of the most enduring showbiz careers only becoming more popular the older she became.

The “Golden Girls” Cast Then And Now

With the recent release of the classic sitcom The Golden Girls on Hulu , you may have found yourself wondering what the Golden Girls look like now. Unfortunately while researching the very same question, we came upon the sad news that three of the four ladies are no longer with us, leaving only Betty White to remain out there spinning comedic gold.

So while we can’t show you what the Golden Girls look like now, we can show you what they looked like during various part of their lives, including their youth and post-Golden Girl days.

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During the hilarious sitcom’s seven year run, each and every one of the four ladies of the main cast won Emmy’s for their work on the show. Not only did it deliver a constant stream of laughter, it was considered groundbreaking for its time for featuring a cast of women over 40.

So come on in and check out what The Golden Girls looked like throughout various eras of their lives and find out what each did after leaving the show.

Bea Arthur As Dorothy Zbornak

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Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy Zbornak on the Golden Girls, was also a Tony Award-winning actress who also appeared on All in the Family and a subsequent spin-off show in which she appeared in the title role of Maude.

After the iconic Golden Girls came to an end, Bea went on to guest star on shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even mounted her own one-woman show called “And Then There’s Bea” in 2001. The next year, she appeared on Broadway in the Tony-Award nominated “Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends.”

Apart from the world of acting, Bea was also a strong activist and supported causes such as animal rights and AIDS research. She also made a generous donation to a home for homeless LGBT youth called the Bea Arthur Residence which is due to open its doors this summer in NYC.

Bea passed away from cancer at the age of 86 in her Los Angeles home in 2009 and left behind two sons whom she had with second husband Gene Saks.

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Betty White As Rose Nylund

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Betty White, who played Rose Nylund on the Golden Girls, has been in show business since the 1950’s and is still out there keeping all our hopes alive that she’ll be around forever. Throughout her long career in show business, she’s appeared on numerous sitcoms, TV shows, and game shows, and even recently hosted Saturday Night Live.

After the Golden Girls ended in 1992, Betty went on to appear on numerous other shows including Golden Palace, Boston Legal, and The Bold and the Beautiful. She also won another Emmy for her 1996 portrayal of herself on “The John Larroquette Show.”

In 2009, she also appeared in the film The Proposal alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, before making a return to Television the next year as a series regular on the hysterical sitcom Hot In Cleveland with Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick.

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She was nominated for yet another Emmy in 2012 for her hidden camera prank show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which she hosts herself. She also recently celebrated her 90th birthday with a star-studded televised program on which she was honored by stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Morgan Freeman, Tina Fey, Ray Romano, Seth Meyers and Tracy Morgan, Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, and Ed Asner.

Aside from acting, she also has a great love for animals and has done charity work with the Los Angeles Zoo and the Morris Animal Foundation for over four decades. In addition to being an activist, she’s also a writer and has published several books including 1987’s Betty White In Person and 1995’s Here We Go Again: My Life in Television, which was re-released in 2010. Her most recent works include 2011’s If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) and My Life at the Zoo: Betty and Her Friends.

Rue McClanahan As Blanche Deveraux

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Before playing the spunky Southern Blanche Deveraux on the Golden Girls, Rue got her start in theater, making her Broadway debut opposite Dustin Hoffman’s 1969 musical Jimmy Shine. In the 1970’s, she was cast in a guest spot on All in the Family by producer Norman Lear. She then went on to star in the role of Vivian alongside Bea Arthur on the show’s spin-off, Maude.

Her work as Blanche on the Golden Girls landed her three Golden Globe nominations, three Emmy nominations, and an Emmy win in 1987.

After the Golden Girls wrapped, she went on to appear on numerous other TV shows such as The Golden Palace, Boy Meets World, Law and Order, Murphy Brown, and Meet the Browns. She also had a run as Madame Morrible in the hit Broadway musical Wicked from 2005-2006.

Rue was married six times in her life and recounts her many loves in her 2007 autobiography My First Five Husbands… And the Ones Who Got Away. In 1997 she began battling breast cancer and finally achieved full remission. Unfortunately however, she passed away due to a stroke at age 76 in 2010.

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Estelle Getty As Sophia Petrillo

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Before playing the Golden Girls matriarch Sophia Petrillo on the Golden Girls, Estelle performed for decades in off Broadway shows, touring productions, and in Yiddish theaters. When she transferred over to television in the 1980’s, she made appearances on shows such as Torch Song Trilogy, Cagney & Lacey, and Newhart. After appearing in the 1985 film Mask, she would be cast in The Golden Girls on which she would make comedic television history.

Ironically, though she wore a wig and prosthetic wrinkles to portray Sophia, Estelle was actually the youngest member of the Golden Girls cast and was only 65 when she began playing the 80 year-old character.

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Though all the women in The Golden Girls cast where hysterical, Sophia was so popular that the character even made guest appearances on other television shows such as Blossom and Empty Nest. Her work as Sophia won her seven Emmy nominations and a win in 1988.

After the end of The Golden Girls in 1992, Estelle would go on to appear on TV Shows such as Golden Palace, Touched by an Angel, and Mad About you before retiring from acting in 2000 due to failing health. Though ultimately diagnosed with a form of dementia, she was able to continue living at home with the help of assistance and passed away in 2008 of natural causes, surrounded by family and friends.

Upon her death, Bea Arthur released a statement saying, “Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever, and I will miss her.”

Survived by her two sons, Estelle continues to go down as history as one of the most talented comedic actresses who ever lived.

Relive all the hilarious moments with The Golden Girls by streaming the show on Hulu!

SHARE the laughter with all your fellow Golden Girls fans!

What Happened To Them?: The Cast of ‘The Golden Girls’

In choosing to feature the cast of The Golden Girls this week, I’m totally anticipating at least one Facebook comment of “Most of them died, duh!” Yes – it’s true. Three out of four of the amazing ladies on the show have since passed on. (And have more tact, possible commentator! Sheesh.) However, I think it’s really important to highlight the fantastic careers they’ve had. Each of the female leads were nominated for, and won, an Emmy – making it one of only three sitcoms in the award’s history to achieve this feat. Plus, think of how many shows you can think of which primarily featured women – not too many, right?

The show aired from 1985 to 1992, and was followed by The Golden Palace, which starred three of the four women. Sadly, the spin-off only lasted a season.

So let’s talk about what these amazing ladies did after The Golden Girls wrapped up!

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak

Dorothy was a teen mom who married her baby’s father, Stanley, to have it end in divorce 38 years later. Bea got her start by playing Maude Findlay on the 1970’s sitcom All in the Family, and her character was so popular that she was granted her own show that same decade, named Maude.

The latter was famous for bringing heavy topics to light on screen, such as mental illness, abortion, divorce, and spousal abuse. As abortion was illegal in all states except for New York at the time, dozens of affiliates refused to broadcast the episode in which Maude faced a late-in-life pregnancy and chose the controversial procedure. Two months after it aired, abortion was legalized nationwide due to the Roe v. Wade outcome.

Bea was the Golden Girls lead who decided not to continue with the spin-off, and instead opted to perform a few one-woman shows, titled An Evening with Bea Arthur and And Then There’s Bea. In 2002, she returned to Broadway starring in Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends – but in-between, earned yet another Emmy nomination for a guest starring role on a season one episode of Malcolm in the Middle.

Bea was also heavily involved with PETA since 1987, and was also known for her influences towards civil rights for women, the elderly, and the Jewish and LGBT communities.

She passed away on April 25th, 2009 after a battle with cancer. In her will, she put $300,000 towards The Ali Forney Center, which has helped provide housing for homeless LGBT youths since 2002. Here’s one of her final appearances – a roast for Pamela Anderson (which probably isn’t safe for work.)

Betty White as Rose Nylund

Rose found her way into the Golden Girls house after the passing of her husband, Charlie Nylund.

Betty holds many awards, but one of the most notable was granted this year by the Guinness Book of World Records, who named her the female entertainer with the longest television career.

Betty got the acting bug after writing and starring in a graduation play at Horace Mann School in Beverly Hills. That being said, her career began in radio. She had her own radio show, called “The Betty White Show” in the 1940’s and later co-hosted with Al Jarvis on his daily, live variety show Hollywood on Television on KLAC in Los Angeles. This lead to her own talk show in front of the camera in 1954, also called The Betty White Show, on NBC. Her first movie role was in a 1962 drama called Advise & Consent.

You also can’t forget about Betty’s numerous appearances on daytime game shows, like Password. She made such an impression on Password that she ended up marrying the host, Allen Ludden, in 1963.

In 1973, a one-off performance on The Mary Tyler Moore show as Sue Ann Nivens lead to a full-time opportunity. After landing Golden Girls in 1985, she was the only cast member to be nominated in the Best Actress category every single year – and she won, during the first season!

After The Golden Palace, Betty appeared in a bunch of sitcoms – including Malcolm in the Middle, like Bea. (Not the same episode, unfortunately.) You might remember her role in the 1999 movie Lake Placid. She’s also lent her voice for a few animated series, such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and King of the Hill.

From 2005 to 2008, Betty had a recurring role on Boston Legal. She then appeared in the 2009 motion picture The Proposal, alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. And then, 2010 happened.

2010 was a big year for Betty, and proof that Facebook campaigns aren’t for naught. After someone lobbied for her to host Saturday Night Live, Lorne and the team took note and booked her for their May 8th show. Not only was it the most watched episode of SNL, but it made Betty the oldest host in the history of the show, and earned her (yet another) Emmy.

That same year, she starred in the show Hot in Cleveland. She’s currently hosting the show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, and also voiced Grammy Norma in the 2012 film The Lorax.

Like Bea, Betty loves her animals. Since 1974, she’s been on the board for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and was a presenter at the 2011 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards ceremony.

Her most recent acting role has been playing God in an episode of Save Me this season. We salute you, Betty White.

Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux

Blanche was a rich girl with Southern charm. Her charm might have been the reason why she had so many male suitors after the death of her husband. Seriously. Blanche was a scandalous broad!

Rue got her start on stage, starring in off Broadway productions before her Broadway debut in 1969, when she portrayed Sally Weber in the musical Jimmy Shine, starring alongside Dustin Hoffman. She moved onto two soap operas afterward, Another World and Where The Heart Is. It was her next role that introduced her to Bea Arthur – Rue played Maude’s best friend, Vivian Harmon, on Maude. Perhaps it was her chemistry with Bea that brought the two of them to The Golden Girls.

Rue wasn’t opposed to children’s television, despite the racy roles she became known to play. In 1999, she played the role of Steve’s grandmother in the Blue’s Clues video Blue’s Big Treasure Hunt. Prior to, in 1994, she voiced Anastasia Hardy in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. She also continued her work on the stage, playing Madame Morrible in Wicked in 2005.

In November of 2009, Rue had a triple bypass surgery that caused her to suffer a small stroke. In June of 2010, she passed away due to a brain hemorrhage.

Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo

Despite playing Dorothy’s mother, Estelle was actually younger than Bea. Props to the makeup department! Estelle might have had some of the best zingers on the show, which is a tough achievement to gain with the witty writers that the show employed.

Estelle Getty was born Estelle Sher, but created her stage name through her husband, Arthur Gettleman, whom she was married to until his death in 2004. While she had a few minor roles in shows like Newhart and Cagney and Lacey, The Golden Girls was her first big series. After The Golden Palace didn’t impress the critics, she moved on to another series, called Empty Nest. In 1997 she played Betty Weston in the TV movie A Match Made in Heaven, had a bit part in 1999’s Stuart Little, and wrapped up her career with an episode of a show called Ladies’ Man that reunited her with some of her fellow golden girls.

In 1991, she extended her heart out to her nephew Steven Scher, who at the age of 29, was close to the end with his battle with AIDS. Since his parents were in another country, Estelle flew Steven to California where she admitted him to hospice care. Unfortunately, he passed away in January of 1992, but the experience made her a vocal supporter of gay rights and an active fundraiser for AIDS research for the rest of her life.

Getty died in 2008 from Lewy Body Dementia just three short days before her 85th birthday.

In short, these women did more than cause my sweet-as-pie grandmother to completely ignore me for a half hour during new episodes – they helped pave the way for many other female comedians who learned that it’s okay to be a bit edgy with their craft. What are some of your favorite moments from The Golden Girls?

Featured image via gstatic.com

  • By Karen Belz