The shocking and tragic news emerged this afternoon on June 3rd 2010 of the passing of Rue McClanahan, the 3rd Golden Girl to pass away.
For those who don’t remember, there was a little show in the 80’s called “The Golden Girls” which starred four women; Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. The show quickly became a piece of television history gathering a cult following among its fans.
The show ran for a magnificient 7 seasons, with 180 episodes each filled with moving storylines, controversy and humour beyond comparison. The show remained in the top 10 shows on NBC’s network for 6 season running, before dropping to 30 in it’s final season. The hour-long finale aired on May 9, 1992 drew in 27.2 million viewers, that was 38% of the viewers at the time!
The show won “The Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series” twice, along with Three “Golden Globe for Outstanding TV series comedy/musical” awards and each of the four main characters won an Emmy for their work on the show.
The show was considered groundbreaking in it’s 80’s heyday. The story centered around 4 fifty- something year old women living in Miami, USA. “The Golden Girls” was one of the only shows on television to consist of almost an entirely female cast and became the first show where sex after fourty was acknowledged and discussed openly, of course the show gave their own ingenious twists to controversial issues ranging from homosexuality, ageism, animal rights, organ donation, gambling and many, many more.
The actresses themselves were a part of television history and helped make this show the success it is to this day.
Estelle Getty played the role of “Sophia Petrillo” a feisty and sarcastic 80-something year old mother to Dorothy and oldest of the 4 women, amusingly, Estelle herself was 14 months younger than her on-screen daughter Beatrice Arthur and 18 months younger than their dim-witted friend Rose, played by Betty White. In 1985 Estelle won a Golden Globe for “Actress in a leading role” and won the Emmy for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” in 1988. Estelle Getty sadly died on July 22, 2008 after her long battle with Dementia, Osteoporosis, Parkinson disease and suspected Alzheimers.
Beatrice Arthur, commonly known as “Bea” played the witty, stern substitute teacher in her role as “Dorothy Zbornak”. Bea herself enjoyed a full career before “The Golden Girls” that spanned seventy years! The actress is most famous for her role of “Maude Findlay” in the 70’s sitcom “All in The Family” and “Maude” for which she won an Emmy and her role of “Dorothy Zbornak” in “The Golden Girls” both shows were canceled because she decided to leave. On top of her television accomplishments, Arthur was a Tony winning actress on broadway and had a singing career. Beatrice Arthur become the second “Golden Girl” to pass away, less than a year after her co-star Estelle Getty on April 25th 2009 from cancer. With her Death Beatrice Arthur donated $300,000 to help homeless LGBT youth, she was both an LGBT icon in life and death.
Rue McClanahan passed away from a stroke just today making her the 3rd and youngest of “The Golden Girls” cast to pass; aged 76, after a heart bypass last year, and breast cancer in 1997 (which she fully recovered from), Rue had lived at home to recover however the news broke of her death this morning. Rue McClanahan won an Emmy for “Outstanding leading actress in a comedy series for ‘The Golden Girls’ 1987” an Obie award in 1969, Golden Apple award in 1986 and two TV land awards in 2003 and 2008 for “The Golden Girls”. Rue also became one of the first celebrity supporters of PeTA and was a dedicated vegetarian.
Betty White, the last remaining Golden girl is yet to chuck off her boots, at the age of 88 with a career spanning over seven decades, Betty shows no signs of slowing down after she recently appeared just 2 weeks ago on the hit American TV show “Saturday Night Live” making the oldest person to ever host the show and last year she starred alongside Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal”. Betty White has won 6 Emmy’s becoming the first woman to ever receive an Emmy for hosting a game show and she is the only Golden girl to be presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” which she received in 2010. Betty is clearly still going strong and has said she could never imagine retiring, she is also a pet lover and in April 2008 donated $100,000 to L.A’s zoo and botanical gardens.
“The Golden Girls” was and to this day remains to be one of the most popular sitcoms ever made and featured some of the most talents females of television spanning back seventy years! In 2009 all four of the actresses were awarded honarary “Disney Legends” awards for their work on “The Golden Girls” (which was distributed by Buena Vista home entertainment).
It is with great sadness I write this piece concerning the death of the 3rd legendary Golden girl, having been a fan of the show myself for almost ten years, I still find myself watching clips on Youtube regularly and going blue in the face from the laughter and comedy of this piece of television gold. I hope you will all join me in saying rest in peace to the 3 Golden Girls who have passed and in hoping the last remaining Golden girl, Betty White, good health and a long life.
Thank you for being a friend, Estelle, Beatrice, Rue and Betty, “The Golden Girls”.
Written by Martyn David.