The Golden Girls (TV Series 1985–1992) Poster



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.
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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 one hundred cheesecakes during the show's seven-year run. In reality, Bea Arthur hated cheesecake.
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.
Rue McClanahan was found asleep in all sorts of places on the set.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Estelle Getty suffered from stage fright, every Friday night for 26 weeks during the show's taping.
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.
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.
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.
It took forty-five minutes in make-up for Estelle Getty to be transformed into Sophia.
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.
In 1992, when Bea Arthur left the show, it was retooled by Susan Harris and became The Golden Palace (1992).
According to Betty White, she and Bea Arthur did not get along throughout the series.
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.
Not one thing Rose says in "Norwegian"iik 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.
The show was originally intended to end after Season 5 but Bea Arthur agreed to stay 2 more years.
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.
The show was a hit in sixty countries and remade in England, Greece, and Russia.
The show garnered a total of 68 Emmy nominations.
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.
Estelle Getty (Sophia) is 1 year, 2 months, and 12 days younger than Bea Arthur (Dorothy), even though Sophia is Dorothy's mother.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blanche's name came from that of Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).
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.
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.
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!"
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 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.
Dorothy has two children: Kate and Michael. Blanche has six children: Matthew, Janet, Biff, Doug, Skippy and Rebecca. Rose has five children: Adam, Janella, Kirsten, Charlie, Jr., and Bridget. Sophia has three children: Dorothy, Phil, and Gloria.
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 three actresses to pass away. Betty White is the last surviving member of the cast.
The first episode attracted more than twenty-five million viewers, beating out fellow-NBC show, The Cosby Show (1984), for the number one spot in the ratings that week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hugh Jackman has admitted to being a huge fan.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blanche's Father, Big Daddy, was originally played by Murray Hamilton. Upon Hamilton's death, the role was recast with David Wayne.
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.
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.
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".
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.
In the episode "Sophia's Choice", the story revolves around Sophia trying to get better retirement home care for her friend Lillian after breaking her out of a "bottom of the barrel" type. In the last scene, Rose suggests they make a pact that they will always stick together so they won't battle old age alone; Blanche adds that they all should go to a nursing home together. Rose then adds "but what happens when there is only one of us left?" which, after a reflective yet morbid pause, Sophia replies "Don't worry, I can take care of myself." The eerie coincidence of this scene is that, Betty White has outlived her costars, becoming "the only one left" as her line once questioned.
One of the TV stage managers on this show from 1987 until 1992, Kent Zbornak, has the same last name as two of the characters, Dorothy Zbornak and Stanley Zbornak.
Lee Grant was asked to play Dorothy, but she refused to play a woman who was old enough to be a grandmother. Lee Grant's daughter, Dinah Manoff, went on to play Carol Weston in the Golden Girls spinoff, Empty Nest.
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.
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.
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.
Estelle Getty was afraid of death.
All four main characters (Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia) appear in every episode.
Estelle Getty had trouble remembering her lines.
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."
Each time the door opens and Stan (Herb Edelman) appears, he always says, "Hi, it's me, Stan."
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.
Some media critics and insiders referred to the show as "Miami Nice", a contrasting reference to the popular TV series Miami Vice (1984).
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.
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.
Quentin Tarantino once made an appearance as an Elvis impersonator
Blanche's full name is Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux (making her initials BED). But also referred to as Blanche Marie in an earlier episode.
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.
While filming a "Columbo - 'Ashes to Ashes' " (Movie of the Week in the Spring of 1998) at Universal-MCA Film City-Studios, Rue McClanahan performed in a guest role, as 'Verity Chandler' - a nasty devious miserably wicked evil tongued Hollywood gossip columnist - on Peter Falk's "Columbo" MOW prime-time-network special. The film was written by, directed, and featured actor Patrick McGoohan - as Eric Prince, seething with resentment of his ex-lover Verity, murderous and bloodthirsty for revenge. During breaks in filming, Rue McClanahan related to Falk's production designer Hub Braden's question when asked - "In 'The Golden Girls' series - how much did each of the featured performers contribute, ad-lib, improvise in their first Monday sit-down read of their dialogue for their character's role?" McClanahan's response was a matter-of-fact statement to his inquiry! "Not much! Bea Arthur arrived in the rehearsal hall, just sat at the conference table and read her lines. Ditto for Estelle Getty. Betty White and myself would interject comments, and usually, our ad-lib/improv dialogue ideas were noted, accepted by Susan Harris, with our spontaneous line idea interjected into our current script. Bea Arthur performed, reading exactly, what she had been given to say; the same, as well - with Estelle. Betty and myself were usually animated in our dialogue readings, bouncing off with an ad-lib or other flippant dialogue. We all delivered our lines exactly as scripted in our final live television performances. We never improvised in filming. Bea and Estelle were full-filling their acting-job during rehearsals and performances! We were all very professional!".
A young George Clooney made an appearance as a young cop in "To Catch A Neighbor" in season 2.
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.
Rue McClanahan and Betty White guest starred in the the same Love Boat episode, " How Do I Love Thee?/No More Alimony/Authoress! Authoress!".
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Bea Arthur's adopted son Matthew Saks, actually appeared briefly in "The Monkey Show" in season 7 as cop #2.
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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".
NBC was doing a promotion for their fall line up, and one of the bits they did to promote these new shows was a skit between Doris Roberts and Selma Diamond who were talking about Miami Vice. Jokingly, they called it "Miami Nice", and they made other humorous references to the show, comparing it to life for women in their 50s. Warren Littlefield and some other NBC executives saw this and were so taken by the chemistry between these two 50+ women, Selma and Doris, that they decided to create a show about women in their 50s. This is how the Golden Girls was born.
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In the seventh episode in season five 'Not Another Monday', Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy attempt to sing a baby to sleep. They harmonise the song 'Mr Sandman', reminiscent of Three Men and a Baby where the song 'Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight' is harmonised to put baby Mary to sleep.
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When Dorothy's son Michael appeared in "Family Affair" in season 2, he was 29 year old according to Dorothy. But when he appeared in "Mixed Blessing" in season 3, he was only 23 year old.
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The three actresses who passed away died in three consecutive calendar years. Estelle Getty died in 2008 at the age of 84, Bea Arthur died in 2009 at the age of 86, and Rue McClanahan, the youngest of the four, died in 2010 at the age of 76 giving her the shortest longevity. All of them were younger than Betty White, who celebrated turning 96 on January 17, 2018 and was only 4 months older than Bea Arthur.
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Chick Vennera played two different characters on the show: Pepe the boxer and Enrique Mas.
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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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In the episode "Beauty and the Beast" Blanche's granddaughter is supposed to perform "Put on a Happy Face" from Bye, Bye Birdie at a beauty pageant. Dick Van Dyke originated the character of Albert Peterson in Bye, Bye Birdie and made that song a signature of sorts. Van Dyke would guest star as one of Dorothy's boyfriends in the season 5 episode "Love Under the Big Top".
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Dorothy's married name is Zbornak which is the same last name as one of the stage managers listed in the full cast & crew "Kent Zbornak".
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The names Angela, Myron, and Gloria is used for more than one character.
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During the first (or few) season(s), Rose said that her late husband was named Charles. But later in the seasons, his name was known as Charlie.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In The Golden Girls: Sophia's Wedding: Part 1 (1988), one of the several Elvis impersonators seen in the wedding is director Quentin Tarantino.
When Dorothy is saying her goodbyes in the final scene, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White were told Bea Arthur would run back in the door for a second goodbye. When Dorothy came round the side of their house, the surprised reactions were genuine. After Dorothy leaves for the second and final time, the actresses thought Bea would come for a third goodbye, them looking around for her was genuine.
Dorothy's brother Phil is always talked about but he's never seen. He is a cross dresser, married to a woman and has kids with her. He dies from a heart attack in season 6.

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