For more than three decades we’ve been thanking Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty for being our true-hearted friends, pals, and confidants on The Golden Girls. People all over the world still can’t get enough of the smart-mouthed bunch and the last surviving cast member/national treasure, Betty White.
The Golden Girls quartet may remind of you of your own grandparents, and the show may be something you bonded with them over on slow afternoons. Or maybe you watched it on your own and got stuck the first time you heard Sophia completely own everyone in the room with a one-liner.
After watching a show for 30 years, you start to pick up on a few things. For example, the fact that there were only three chairs at the kitchen table and that Bea Arthur was always in the middle. But even with three decades of viewing, fans may be unaware of some of the most interesting facts about The Golden Girls. Whether you’re a longtime fan or just stumble across the series on Lifetime, here are some of those facts.
Bea Arthur Hated Cheesecake
Some people share a drink along with their late-night wisdom. But The Golden Girls was a family show, so that may not have worked. Instead, the four roommates would often get together at 3 a.m. to share slices of cheesecake and talk about life. But, according to The Huffington Post, while she ate cheesecake on-set more than 100 times, Bea Arthur hated it.
Rue McClanahan Kept Her Wardrobe
Blanche was most recognizable for her embrace of the term carpe diem. An example of this would be how she would strut out of her bedroom with another stunning outfit on as she prepared for another date. Perhaps McClanahan’s confidence exuded through her wardrobe because she knew she was going to be able to wear it again later, due to a clause in her contract that allowed her to keep her entire wardrobe. She left with more than 500 outfits from the show in her possession.
Sophia Was Really Younger Than Dorothy
Even though Estelle Getty played the oldest person on the show, she was actually one of the youngest. She was even a year younger than Bea Arthur, who played her daughter, Dorothy. To make her look Sophia’s age, a make-up crew would spend up to 45 minutes on her before shooting, which got a little more difficult in the second season when she came back with a new facelift.
They Were All Familiar With Each Other
One reason viewers may have been so comfortable seeing the quartet on-screen together is that they were already familiar with them collaborating. Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan worked together on Maude, and Betty White and McClanahan were both seen on Mama’s Family.
Betty White Was Supposed To Be Blanche
Bea Arthur was reportedly reluctant to bring everyone together again on one show due to a fear of redundancy. But when McClanahan came back and told her that she and White had actually switched roles, she was interested in the change of scenery. Still, it’s just as hard to imagine anyone playing the sweet, naïve Rose other than Betty White as it is to imagine McClanahan being that clueless at times.
Queen Elizabeth Was A Big Fan
Queen Elizabeth was such a fan of The Golden Girls that the cast came to London to perform an episode for her on stage. Of course, sans the raunchier material out of respect for her highness. But they actually kept in a joke about how Blanche only waited “until the paramedics came” to have sex again after her husband died and got a chuckle out of the Queen Mother.
The dynamic of the Miami, Florida home could’ve been very different if there wasn’t a last-minute change after the pilot. In the show’s original script, the four housemates were also going to be sharing their space with a live-in cook/servant named Coco. But he got cut, even though the audience liked him in his sole appearance.
They Had Gold To Spare
The Golden Girls is one of only three programs where the entire main cast won an Emmy for their work – the other two being All in the Family and Will & Grace. According to IMDb, both White and Getty received seven nominations, while Arthur and McClanahan received four.
Familiar Faces Made Appearances
Like any popular series, a lot of now-familiar faces made their way through before they got to be as famous as they are now. A handful of those actors are George Clooney, Burt Reynolds and you can spot Quentin Tarantino in the video above. He’s the Elvis Presley impersonator in the gold suit in the back.
Sadly, The Friendship Was Only On-Screen
In a perfect world, the four actresses would’ve been just as close off-screen as their characters were on. That would make all of us happy. But, sadly, that wasn’t the case. In an interview, Rue McClanahan made it clear that she and Bea didn’t have that close of a relationship and wouldn’t have lunch unless Betty White was also there. But even Betty said Bea wasn’t that fond of her in a CNN interview.
Estelle Getty Had Serious Stage Fright
One of the most memorable characters from the show known for her one-liners and quick thinking was actually pretty insecure when it came to her acting ability. Estelle Getty would come down with serious bouts of stage fright on days of shooting and would be concerned that fans would spot what she considered her inferior acting ability, compared to her co-stars.
Bea Arthur Wouldn’t Come Back For The Spin-Off
First off, you may not even know that there was a spin-off to The Golden Girls called The Golden Palace. Secondly, it only lasted one season and starred three of the original four members of the main cast, excluding Bea Arthur. The producers even considered replacing her with another actress as to not throw off the balance of the show, but ultimately decided not to. At least they (sort of) kept the legendary theme song.
This is an updated version of an article that originally ran in September 2015.