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The Golden Girls (TV Series 1985–1992) Poster

(1985–1992)

Trivia

Rue McClanahan was found asleep in all sorts of places on the set.
Estelle Getty underwent a face-lift between the first and second seasons, much to the horror of the make-up crew who already had to go to great lengths to make Getty look old on camera.
It was not originally scripted for Blanche to have a Southern accent. Instead, it was Rue McClanahan's idea to do so.
When the show first aired, the Queen Mother loved it so much that she wrote to the four actresses and asked them to perform a live show especially for her. They obliged, and acted out an episode in which the girls visit London on stage in front of the queen and her family.
The girls consumed over 100 cheesecakes during the show's 7-year run. In reality, Bea Arthur hated cheesecake.
Estelle Getty suffered from stage fright, every Friday night for 26 weeks during the show's taping.
Betty White was the oldest of the four main actresses. Ironically, with the death of Rue McClanahan, she became the last surviving member of the cast.
Betty White and Estelle Getty both received seven Emmy nominations, while Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan only received four. All four actresses won Emmys for their performances.
Throughout the series, there are many jokes made by the girls at Rose regarding her natural hair color. Betty White is in fact a natural brunette and dyes her hair Blonde.
Not one thing Rose says in "Norwegian" is real. It's mostly gibberish and usually adds to the humor when seen as a subtitle. However in her accent and pronunciation, it comes off as genuine.
Bea Arthur initially resisted efforts to be cast in the series. She saw it as redundant for her and Rue McClanahan to essentially reprise their roles from Maude, with Betty White more or less in her same role from The Mary Tyler Moore (1970) Show. Arthur finally agreed when McClanahan told her that she and White decided to swap roles.
Although there were four women living in the house, there were always only three chairs around that famous kitchen table. That was strictly due to the limits of filming-to avoid either squeezing all four shoulder-to-shoulder or having one actress with her back to the camera. Bea Arthur was always given the center chair, both because of her height and also in order to catch her priceless facial expressions in reaction to either Blanche's remembrance of sexual encounters past, Rose's St. Olaf story, or Sophia's "Picture it!" monologue.
Though it is widely believed that Blanche's age is never actually revealed, in The Golden Girls: Mother's Day (1988), it is admitted in a flashback that Blanche was 17 in 1949. That would make her 53 years old when the series began in 1985 and 60 when it ended in 1992.
Betty White had always been a fierce competitor when she had appeared on Password back in the day, and she found a kindred spirit in Rue McClanahan when it came to word games. The two ladies frequently played alphabet games in between takes (for example, if the topic was cars, they would take turns naming different brands - Audi, Buick, Cadillac-alphabetically) throughout the entire day of taping.
Dorothy has two children: Kate and Michael. Blanche has six children: Matthew, Janet, Biff, Doug, Skippy and Rebecca. Rose has four children: Adam, Janella, Kirsten and Bridget. Sophia has three children: Dorothy, Phil, and Gloria.
Estelle Getty (Sophia) is 1 year, 2 months and 12 days younger than Bea Arthur (Dorothy), even though Sophia is Dorothy's mother.
Due to Estelle Getty's intense stage fright, during Friday tapings she would often freeze on camera. She was the least experienced actress of the four, and it intimidated her. She stated in a 1988 interview that working every week with talent like Bea Arthur and Betty White scared her out of her wits. She felt like a fraud and worried that the fans would "find out" that she wasn't as good as her co-stars.
According to Betty White, she and Bea Arthur did not get along throughout the series.
It took 45 minutes in make-up for Estelle Getty to be transformed into Sophia.
Bea Arthur did not have pierced ears, thus all those "crazy earrings" (her words) that Golden Girls stylist Judy Evans gave Dorothy were clip-ons. Arthur loved the dramatic effect of the jewelry, but hated that her ears were numb with pain by the end of the day.
The idea for the show came from NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff, who was visiting his elderly aunt one day and saw how she and her next-door neighbor, who was also her best friend, interacted with each other. Even though they would argue and bicker a lot, they were still best friends and loved each other. Tartikoff thought that would make a great show, and "The Golden Girls" was born.
In several episodes which showed flashbacks to when Dorothy and Sophia were living in New York during the '40s and '50s, Estelle Getty appears without the wig and makeup.
Cynthia Fee sang the theme song for the series, "Thank You for Being a Friend". It was originally written and recorded in 1978 by Singer/Songwriter Andrew Gold, whose version was a minor hit on the Billboard Pop Chart.
Rose was the only character whose husband (named Charlie) was never depicted on the show. Dorothy's ex-husband Stan was featured as a recurring character, Sophia's husband Sal was seen in flashbacks, and Blanche's husband George was depicted in an episode depicting a dream by Blanche.
Rue McClanahan has stated that she was originally against the idea of a Golden Girls spin off (which aired as The Golden Palace). McClanahan asked the producers if they could write a new room mate in for the Girls. The producers briefly considered the idea and even spoke with Doris Roberts to join the show.
In the episode "Wham, Bam, Thank You Mammy", Blanche is called "Blanche Marie Hollingsworth, but in a later episode she says her full name is "Blanche Elizabeth Deveraux" (B.E.D.)
Rue McClanahan had a clause written into her contract that she be allowed to keep all of Blanche's custom-made clothing. McClanahan had 13 closets filled with the designer wardrobe in her Sutton Place co-op in Manhattan.
Just prior to the series, Rue McClanahan and Betty White appeared together in episodes of Mama's Family (1983), on which they both had semi-regular roles.
In the first season exteriors of the house were shot from a real house in California. For later seasons exterior shots were filmed at Walt Disney World's MGM Studios (now "Disney's Hollywood Studios"). They built an exact replica of the house in Orlando. This replica was demolished in 2003.
One of the few series of its era to include openly gay and lesbian characters, and deal with related issues. The Pilot featured the Girl's openly gay personal chef Coco, and Blanche had an openly gay brother Clayton, who appeared in a couple of episodes. Another episode featured an old friend of Dorothy's who was Lesbian. At least one other episode dealt with the theme of HIV/AIDS. The series has also attracted a strong following among the LGBT community.
When the original pilot script was submitted to Disney/Touchstone, Michael Eisner liked it but he felt something was missing. He thought a show about three old women living together might scare away younger viewers. He asked Susan Harris to keep working on it. Harris then added the character of Sophia. When she was added, Dorothy became just another woman dealing with her mother and Eisner loved it. After Sophia was added and a pilot was shot, a character named Coco, a gay male servant was cut from the series.
The show was a hit in 60 countries and remade in England, Greece and Russia.
In 1992, when Bea Arthur left the show, it was retooled by Susan Harris and became The Golden Palace (1992).
In The Golden Girls: Big Daddy's Little Lady (1986) when the girls are in the kitchen having cheesecake and Rose starts to tell a story, Blanche cuts in and says "must we take yet another trip to Petticoat Junction?" Betty White had actually appeared in one episode of Petticoat Junction (1963) back in 1969 (Petticoat Junction: The Cannonball Bookmobile (1969)).
The show garnered a total of 68 Emmy nominations.
Numerous episodes involve jokes about the girls unintentionally encountering a penis, whether real, in a painting, or even an erotic cake. Each time, Dorothy's reaction is the same: "Whoa!"
In one episode, Blanche wants to watch the soap opera Another World (1964). Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche, made several appearances on that soap opera.
Many actors and actresses were invited back to play different characters. Harold Gould played two of Rose's boyfriends, Arnie and Miles. Bill Dana played Sophia's brother Angelo and her father. Ellen Albertini Dow played Sophia's friend Lillian and an unnamed member of an old folks home. Chick Vennera played a prize fighter and TV reporter Enrique Mas. Paul Dooley played Rose's date Isaac Newton and a neighbor doctor for a semi-failed pilot of what would become Empty Nest (1988). Philip Sterling played two different psychiatrists. Sid Melton played Sophia's late husband and a jester at a restaurant. George Grizzard played Blanche's late husband and her brother-in-law. Numerous other actors with much smaller parts were asked back twice, sometimes to play non-speaking extras.
Estelle Getty was afraid of death.
The house's kitchen was recycled from the short-lived Susan Harris series It Takes Two (1982), which ran in 1982-83. After the first few episodes in season 1, the polka dot wallpaper of the original kitchen was replaced with a leafy pattern, deemed to be more "tropical" in appearance.
In 2003, an off Broadway production of the show titled "The Golden Girls: Live!" ran for several months before Susan Harris, the shows creator, demanded the production be stopped. The entire cast consisted of male actors.
The writers of the show always tried to give Sophia the raciest lines. They did this because her character had a stroke earlier in life, which made her unable to control the things she was able to say.
Betty White played Rose Nylund on four different shows: Empty Nest (1988), Nurses (1991), The Golden Girls (1985) and The Golden Palace (1992)
Rue McClanahan was to play Rose and Betty White was to play Blanche (The producers originally wanted Rue to play a version of her naive Vivian Cavender character from Maude (1972) and Betty White to play a version of her man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens from Mary Tyler Moore (1970).) They switched roles because they didn't want to be typecast.
In The Golden Girls: Break In (1985), Rose says that her hometown is Little Falls. In all the episodes after that, she says that her hometown is St. Olaf.
Lee Grant was asked to play Dorothy, but she refused to play a woman who was old enough to be a grandmother.
Blanche's name came from that of Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).
Estelle Getty played Sophia on six different shows: The Golden Girls (1985), The Golden Palace (1992), Empty Nest (1988), Blossom (1990), Nurses (1991) and Ladies Man (1999).
The first episode attracted more than 25 million viewers, beating out fellow-NBC show, The Cosby Show (1984), for the number one spot in the ratings that week.
Some media critics and insiders referred to the show as "Miami Nice", a contrasting reference to the popular TV series Miami Vice (1984).
Estelle Getty was the second youngest of the four main actresses, yet her character, Sophia, was the eldest of the four main characters. Ironically, Getty was also the first of 3 actresses to pass away. Betty White is the last surviving member of the cast
One of the TV stage managers on this show from 1987 until 1992, Kent Zbornak, has the same last name as one of the lead characters, Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur.
In the early 1990s, in a dispute over the network's per-episode licensing fee, Touchstone Television considered taking the still-running show away from NBC and offering it to CBS or ABC.
Blanche's Father, Big Daddy, was originally played by Murray Hamilton. Upon Hamilton's death, the role was recast with David Wayne.
The show was originally intended to end after Season 5 but Bea Arthur agreed to stay 2 more years.
One of three TV-series to win Emmys for all its main characters. The other two are All in the Family (1971) and Will & Grace (1998). Mary Tyler Moore (1970) won Emmys for six different characters from a larger cast.
When the actresses trying out for the part of Dorothy, the description of the character was "a Bea Arthur-esque role".
Harold Gould played "Arnie Peterson" in "Rose the Prude" (episode # 1.3) as Rose's first boyfriend since her husband, before going on to becoming Rose's regular boyfriend, Miles.
Brandon Tartikoff, then head of NBC, originally conceived the idea for the show during a NBC affiliate meeting promoting new shows for the 1984-1985 television season. Actress's Selma Diamond, of Night Court (1984) fame, and actress Doris Roberts, then of Remington Steele (1982) fame, performed an opening monologue the proved to be a hit with the audiences. Tartikof apparently began to ponder the idea about doing a sitcom dealing with the trails and tribulations of older women.
When asked by Rose about her marriage in the first episode of the series, Dorothy says she is from Queens. In all the other episodes, Dorothy says she is from Brooklyn.
In The Golden Girls: Sophia's Wedding: Part 1 (1988), one of the several Elvis impersonators seen in the wedding is director Quentin Tarantino.
Hugh Jackman has admitted to being a huge fan.
In the pilot episode Blanche's surname is Hollingsworth, not Devereaux (as in subsequent episodes). Blanche's maiden name was Hollingsworth, her married name was Devereaux.
Stories abounded that the exclamation point seen on the back of the front door was carved into the wood by Bea Arthur prior to the filming of the first episode. It has been stated by the creators that the story about Arthur carving it was not true, rather that it was just a flaw/mark in the wood and has no significance.
Blanche's full name is Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux (making her initials BED). But also referred to as Blanche Marie in an earlier episode.
Broadway legend Elaine Stritch was considered for the role of Dorothy. According to Stritch, many of the NBC executives in her audition liked her but Susan Harris didn't and felt she was too vulgar for the role. In her one-woman show, "Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2002)", Stritch recounted that she "blew" the audition by trying to break the ice by asking if she could improvise with the dialogue a little, and then, as a joke, changing the line "Ying, don't forget the hors d'oeuvres" into "Ying, don't forget the fucking hors d'oeuvres."
Bea Arthur reportedly did not get along with her co-stars very well. Betty White admits in interviews that they did not have a good relationship. Rue McLanahan has said she didn't have a relationship with Bea either calling her very eccentric.
All four Golden Girls have sisters. Dorothy's sister is Gloria, Rose's sisters are Holly and Lily, Sophia's sister is Angela and Blanche, who has two sisters, are Virginia and Charmaine.
During the first season a real house, in Pacific Palisades, California, was used for the exterior shots of the house. For the rest of the series a replica of the exterior was built on the studio's lot. This exterior facade was part of the backstage studio tour ride at Disney/MGM studios. This facade - along with the Empty Nest (1988) house - was among those destroyed in Summer 2003, as Disney bulldozed the homes of "Residential Street" to make room for its "Lights, Motors, Action!" attraction.
Allegedly Bea Arthur called Betty White a "c___". Betty White acknowledges Bea didn't like her, and has said it was due to her eternally optimistic personality, which she said rubbed Bea the wrong way.
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In one episode, Rose meets longtime boyfriend Miles' daughter (Caroline) who tries to get Rose to stay away from her father because she feels it's too soon after her mother died. But in a later episode, it is revealed that Miles is actually a member of the witness relocation program--his real name is Nicholas Carbone, and he is hiding from a mob boss named The Cheeseman. So either this is a continuity error, or the FBI goes to extreme measures to create new identities, giving protected witnesses new family members.
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During the seven seasons on the air at NBC, The Golden Girls was nominated for 68 Emmy Awards and won a total of 11 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series twice for its first two seasons. For its first season (1985-86) it was nominated for 15 Emmys (winning 4); the second season (1986-87) it received 14 Emmy nominations (winning 3); the third season (1987-88) it received 12 nominations (winning 3); the fourth season (1988-89) it got 10 nominations; the fifth season (1989-90) it got 8 nominations; the sixth season (1990-91) it got 6 nominations; and the seven and final season (1991-92) it got 3 nominations (winning 1). In addition, The Golden Girls received a total of 21 Golden Globe nominations and won four Golden Globes. Three of the four Golden Globes it won were for Best Comedy/Musical Series for its first three seasons.
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Both Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur were Jewish. (Neither one was Italian). Reportedly Getty used to ask the producers "couldn't we just make (Dorothy and Sophia) Jewish?". The producers wouldn't budge, however.
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Dorothy's brother Phillip is always talked about but he's never seen
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Each time the door opens and Stan (Herb Edelman) appears, he always says, "Hey, it's me, Stan."
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Bea Arthur, who was not close to the other cast members, did not stay in touch with her Golden Girls co-stars after the show ended.
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In "Up (2009)", there is a "Shady Oaks Retirement Village". It's very likely to be an in-joke reference to the earlier Disney/Touchstone Television series "The Golden Girls (1985)" and Sophia's very dubious retirement home "Shady Pines".
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According to her EmmyTvLegends interview Rue McClanahan said the Golden Girls were not very close off screen, except for her and Betty. The others were not really friends.
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Estelle Getty had trouble remembering her lines.
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In an episode, Sophia (Estelle Getty) and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) dress up like Sonny and Cher. By mistake, Blanche (Rue McClanahan) mistakes them for Cheech and Chong. Ironically, Cheech Marin would star with Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, and Betty White in the spin-off series "The Golden Palace".
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In DVD commentary on an episode, Rue McClanahan says that she and Betty White used to leave each other riddles and puzzles to solve on the bulletin board in the kitchen.
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Rue played Ruth Remply, one half of the wife-swapping duo in the " All in the Family" episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers". This crazy, promiscuous character is very similar to Blanche on The Golden Girls.
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