“The Golden Girls”: Little-Known Facts About The Iconic Show
The Golden Girls is one of the most universally loved television shows of the 1980s. It ran from 1985 - 1992 on NBC. It still has one of the most devoted fanbases of any television show ever, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, and the show continues in reruns all over the world. If you're a Golden Girls superfan, you might think that you know everything about it. Maybe you do! Check out these little-known facts about The Golden Girls!
Betty White had been a star for decades before she joined the cast of The Golden Girls. Prior to that show, she was best known for playing "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sue Ann was man-obsessed and super competitive with her co-stars.
Originally, Betty White was cast as Blanche, but she felt that it would be a retread of Sue Ann, so she and Rue McClanahan switched characters at the last minute. Blanche was always supposed to be a Southern Belle, but she was supposed to be the ditzy one.
This is kind of an odd piece of trivia, but The Golden Girls was produced by Buena Vista Television, which is owned by Disney. The show has become so popular after its run that the internet is filled with Golden Girls memes.
So, when it came time to make the animated movie Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet, the screenwriters wanted to include a Golden Girls scene in the movie that was similar to the one involving Disney Princesses. Sadly, the scene was cut, but the director of the film said, "You're asking my regrets when I'm on my deathbed? It's that - that The Golden Girls are not in this movie."
The Golden Girls still has a massive fanbase, particularly among gay men. The dynamics of the cast and the fact that they tackled so many issues related to gay rights in a time where the subject was a bit taboo has endeared them to a legion of fans.
Bea Arthur, in particular, was known for her activism. When she passed away, she left much of her estate to the Ali Forney Center, which is a foundation for LGBTQ+ youth. They tackle the problem of LGBTQ+ homelessness and opened a shelter named for her in 2005.
Much of the action on The Golden Girls happened in the kitchen. Sitting around, discussing problems, and making fun of each other all happened there. The funny thing is that originally, it wasn't their kitchen at all!
The kitchen set was actually recycled from another show, the short-lived sitcom It Takes Two. Art director Michael Hynes told Jim Colucci in the book Golden Girls Forever that, “We took what had been the show's kitchen and just spliced it right on to The Golden Girls’ living room,” Michael told Jim Colucci. “We took out the oven area and a couple of cabinets to make it a little smaller, but otherwise that was their wallpaper, their shelves, and their plants."
Speaking of cheesecake, this was the Golden Girls' favorite dessert. Many of the problems in their lives were worked out over a cheesecake in the kitchen. There are recipes for it online, and they ate more than 100 of them over the course of the show.
There was one problem with it though. The cheesecake was real, and Bea Arthur hated cheesecake. So if you watch the episodes closely, you'll notice that Dorothy almost never eats it. If you look closely in this picture, you'll notice that the cheesecake on Dorothy's plate is fully intact!
Dorothy was known for wearing large, dramatic earrings through the course of the show. Bea Arthur famously hated pierced ears, going so far as to tell the NY Post that, “I really feel – bear with me here, don’t think I’m out of my mind – I think it’s a way of desecrating the body.”
So, all of those dramatic earrings she wore were clip-ons. They hurt her ears less. She told the Post, “I hate earrings that hurt your ears. I got these adorable little button things from Tiffany’s, but I put them on and suddenly my ears are numb from the pain.”
One of the other fashion memories of the show was Blanche's fabulous clothes. Many of them looked like they were made just for her. Some of them looked like she was literally poured into them. There's a reason for that.
In fact, they were all custom made. Not only that, but Rue McClanahan had it built into her contract that she got to keep all of her wardrobe. That actually makes sense since they were made for her. Supposedly, it filled up 13 closets by the end of the show's run!
The Queen Mum
The Golden Girls had a lot of famous fans. We've already talked about its enduring popularity, but there were a few famous fans as well. Probably the most famous fan of the show was Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
According to Betty White, the Queen Mother requested that the quartet of main characters re-enact some of the famous scenes from the show. They, of course, did so, but they toned down a bit of the "saucier" dialogue.
Not The Only Member Of The Royal Family
The Queen Mother wasn't the only fan of The Golden Girls in the royal family. Apparently, Princess Diana was also a pretty big fan of the show. British comedienne Cleo Rocos told the story in her book, "The Power Of Positive Drinking".
Apparently Rocos, Diana, and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury all visited a club together one night in England. She said that the spent the afternoon before the excursion, “... in front of reruns of The Golden Girls with the sound turned down."
There was another quirk in The Golden Girls kitchen set that you may not have noticed. Even though there were four women living in the house, the kitchen table only had three chairs. There was also a particular pattern to the way they sat.
The absence of the fourth chair was due to the fact that one actress would have had her back to the camera, which is a big no-no for television. Also, Bea Arthur was always seated in the middle because of her height, which is listed at 5'9".
The outdoor area of the Golden Girls' house was often referred to as a "lanai". There is a longstanding rumor about that word that says that it was a made-up word for the show, but this is actually incorrect. A lanai is a real thing!
The word is mostly used in Hawaii, where it is used to describe a more elaborate outdoor patio that includes a veranda and sometimes, open-air fans and other amenities normally found inside the house. It's rarely used in Miami though.
The theme song for The Golden Girls is "Thank You For Being A Friend" by singer Andrew Gold. It wasn't written for the show, and Gold actually recorded it as a song for his album All Of The And Heaven Too... in 1978. It eventually hit number 11 on the Cashbox charts that year.
The version that was used as the main title for The Golden Girls was slightly different. This one was recorded by singer Cynthia Fee. There is another longstanding rumor that it was sung by Rue McClanahan, it is untrue.
Betty And Bea
While Betty White and Bea Arthur may have been good friends onscreen, it was a very different situation behind-the-scenes. According to Bea's son Matthew Saks, "Sometimes Betty would go out and smile and chat with the audience and literally go and make friends with the audience..."
"I think my mom didn't dig that. It's more about being focused or conserving your energy. It's just not the right time to talk to fans between takes. Betty was able to do it and it didn't seem to affect her. But it rubbed my mom the wrong way." He said.
The two actresses also had a dispute over the 1986 Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy Award. Arthur was apparently upset that Betty White won it first. All of the women would go on to win that award, but Betty White was the first one.
Saks told The Hollywood Reporter that, “I think she felt she was more of an actress than Betty. Mom came from Broadway. Betty starred on a game show at one point." That being said, they eventually became friends, and at one point, they were driving each other to work!
Bea And Rue
Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan knew each other from their time on Bea Arthur's show Maude. They weren't especially close, but McClanahan knew that the part of Dorothy had been offered to Arthur and so she gave her a call.
In fact, it was McClanahan who first told Bea Arthur about the role of Dorothy. She had to convince Arthur to take the part. She told Parade, “I called her and said, ‘Why are you going to turn down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?'”
Those are some little-known facts about The Golden Girls. Thank you for being a friend and reading this article! If you enjoyed it, please share this article with your friends. After all, who doesn't love The Golden Girls?