The Golden Girls is live on Hulu and, to this day, is freakin' hilarious. One of the only sitcoms in the 80s that tackled hard-hitting topics like sexuality and age, it's still timeless. The most important part of the show, however, was its cast. Decades before Ryan Murphy brought Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon back into the spotlight in Bette and Joan; these queens were really something. Sadly, it's only Betty White who is still alive. Spoiler alert: young Bea Arthur was a babe.
Before playing Dorothy Zbornak (née Petrillo) on The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur was in the Marine Corps. Not only was she just in the Marine Corps, but she was also a truck-driving Marine. Arthur often denied her time spent in the military, and there's even video evidence to prove it. However, the internet always finds out and has proof of its own. The evidence shows that Arthur did, in fact, join the Marines when she was 21. There are two pretty damning headshots to prove her denial of being a badass totally wrong.
Her acting career really kicked off in 1947 when she studied under German director, Erwin Piscator. Roles on off-Broadway soon took her to the Tony Awards where she won for her portrayal of Vera Charles in Mame. The stage turned to television, where she spent the bulk of her years playing all kinds of characters. Her first TV role was on Norman Lear's All in the Family. Arthur was so well-liked by viewers and executives that they instantly wanted to see her in her own series. Finally, along came The Golden Girls and a lasting legacy that will never leave her name.
Like her Golden Girls alter-ego, Rue McClanahan was popular with men. Although for McClanahan, it wasn't all fun and games. Blanche, her character, was gregarious and incredibly overly-sexed (particularly for an 80s sitcom). Rue, on the other hand, couldn't have been more different. The Southern Belle was brought up as such, taught that living with someone before marriage was living in sin. Perhaps that explains how her first two husbands, both actors, barely lasted three years. Or, you could read her book where she tells us all about it.
I think it was Beyoncé who said, "If they put a ring on it, then you should write a book about it." Of course, chances are I'm wrong. (I am). Rue wrote a funny, colorful tongue-in-cheek memoir about love, marriage, and getting older. Even the book's name is tongue-in-cheek! "My First Five Husbands...And the Ones Who Got Away" was originally published in 2007 to rave reviews. Our favorite quote? "Dumbbells are pretty easy to come by, but since many of them are married, I suggest lifting weights."
The incredibly talented and equally hilarious Estelle Getty played Dorothy's mother, Sophia. Despite playing the oldest character on the show, Getty was actually a year younger than her on-screen daughter. Getty was also only 5-feet-tall, but she more than made up for that with her larger-than-life personality. After seeing a vaudeville show in her hometown of New York City in 1923, she started singing, dancing, and acting herself. For a while after leaving high school, she then worked as a stand-up comedian at summer resorts in the Catskills.
No one can fault a star for riding the wave of their success, and Estelle Getty vehemently stuck to comedy. In the 90s, after The Golden Girls and its spin-off both ended, Getty also made an exercise video. Destroying the idea that a woman had to be sexy to also be fit, "Young At Heart" was a fitness romp for senior citizens. Getty and her trainer, a handsome Frenchman with questionably decent English, remind everyone that aging doesn't have to be bad.
The nation loves Betty White. In fact, the world loves her. As the only remaining Golden Girl, we should protect her with our lives. In The Golden Girls, she played the ditzy darling from St. Olaf, Rose Nylund. However, she was a trailblazer long before that. White has been acting since she was a child. In the 1940s, she had her own radio show called The Betty White Show. With unmistakable dimples and incredibly tight comic timing, it's no surprise that we now know her as the First Lady of Television.
Now 96, Betty White is also the queen of comebacks. Although, she takes issue with the word because she's been working steadily since the pre-war years. While that's the case, after the end of The Golden Girls, she disappeared until coming back with a bang. Betty White fever came back with a vengeance thanks to the sitcom Hot in Cleveland. It was fate. The creators of the show got the idea of it from The Golden Girls, wondering where all the shows about 50-something women had gone. At the 2010 Screen Actors Guild awards, Betty then bagged the much-deserved Life Achievement Award.
The show also inspired three spin-offs, none of which were to match the popularity of The Golden Girls. It didn't matter how funny any of the series' were. Seemingly, unless Getty, Arthur, McClanahan, and White were helming the ship, it just wasn't to be for the creator, Susan Harris. Shot in front of a live studio audience, the show lasted until Bea Arthur left to concentrate on other projects. Before the show was fully cast, McClanahan and White were cast as each other's roles but switched at the last minute. Which... might have been the decision that launched a thousand ships to Shady Pines. Er, so to speak.
The Golden Girls' theme song is widely known throughout the world. Spanning generations, it doesn't even seem to matter whether you've seen the show or not. (But you should, kids. Trust us). The familiar lyrics also conjure up memories of the four together. We can't help but want to thank the five women--creator included--who gave us the show. That, and for being our friends for not only seven years, but more than three decades. For its time, The Golden Girls was so forward-thinking, it makes modern-day Saturday Night Live look like Sesame Street. The show and its actresses gave a voice to women over 20, and it continues to be one of the funniest series ever made. Thank you for being our friends, Golden Girls.
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