Betty White and Bea Arthur Were Not Friendly
Apparently, Betty White was as sunny on set as the character she played on television. And much like Dorothy, Bea Arthur was not amused. At a 2011 talk, Betty White said that whenever she was too happy on set, it would make Bea super angry.
Cheesecakes For All
Over the seven seasons of filming, the cast consumed over 100 cheesecakes. And while those Golden Girls LOVED their midnight cheesecakes, Bea Arthur was not a fan.
Officer Clooney to the Rescue
George Clooney was a guest star on the show once, playing a police officer who investigates the ladies’ next-door neighbors. According to a 2016 issue of the New York Post, Clooney’s agent requested the role for his client so his health insurance wouldn’t lapse.
A.C. Slater Made an Appearance, Too
Long before he danced into our hearts as A.C. Slater on Saved By The Bell, Mario Lopez did a guest spot on The Golden Girls. He plays one of Dorothy’s favorite students who happens to be an undocumented migrant and gets deported.
Estelle Getty Committed a Faux Pas
During the first season’s summer hiatus, Estelle Getty went and got herself a face lift. The makeup department was not happy about this seeing as how they already had to spend more than an hour making her appear old enough to be her younger cast member’s mother.
The Cast Performed a Live Show for the Queen Mother
Seriously. The British Queen Mother was such a huge fan of the show, she requested that the cast and crew put on a live show in 1988 as a part of the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium.
Sophia’s Purse Was Predestined
Before Estelle Getty went to her audition for Sophia, she went shopping for props. The signature straw purse Sophia carries on the show reportedly came from the Los Angeles Fairfax District, where Estelle stopped on her way.
Sophia Was Only Supposed to be a Recurring Role
Estelle Getty was originally a housewife with no background in television but did get her start on stage in Harvey Firestein’s “Torch Song Trilogy.” The producers thought Getty was so good as wise-cracking Sophia, they made her a permanent character, instead.
Quentin Tarantino Got His Start on the Show
Quentin Tarantino’s first paying gig was as an Elvis impersonator on Golden Girls. Even though the show didn’t quite give him the break he needed, he has always credited the show with helping to make Reservoir Dogs as the funds he received for residuals went towards production for the film.
Rue McClanahan Was Actually Handcuffed to a Radiator
In the episode titled “Room Seven,” Blanche handcuffs herself to a radiator in protest to stop her grandmother’s home from being torn down. Apparently, just as the crew was about to break for lunch, the prop master’s handcuff key broke and McClanahan was stuck!
Bea Arthur Once Trolled a Fan
Once upon a time, TV Guide wrote a piece on the Girls that asked if the show was still as good at that time as it had been in its first season. One Betty Johnson of Sioux Falls, Iowa stated that she didn’t think that Bea Arthur’s character was interesting. Bea Arthur read the article, got ahold of information, found Mrs. Johnson’s phone number, and by the end of the phone call, was singing a completely different tune.
Everyone on Set Had Trouble with Bea Arthur
Many cast members have described Bea Arthur as “eccentric,” but others describe her as a terror. Bea almost got one cast member fired for chewing gum on set. She became an outcast on the set, with the other Girls refusing to have lunch with her sometimes.
The Golden Girls Was Inspired By a True Story
NBC Exec, Brandon Tartikoff had visited his elderly aunt and was amused by the love-hate relationship between her and her elderly neighbor. He took the idea to Susan Harris, who became the creator of The Golden Girls.
Betty White Was the Oldest Golden Girl
Despite playing the youngest as Rose on The Golden Girls, Betty was actually the oldest. Although she was only a few months older than Bea Arthur and about two years older than Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan was actually the youngest, at 12 years younger than Betty.
Rue McClanahan Got to Keep All of Blanche’s Clothes
It was actually written into Rue’s contract that she could keep all of her character’s clothes at the end of the show. In the end, what she took home filled up more than ten closets.
25 Million People Watched the Pilot
The first episode attracted over 25 million viewers, making it an instant success. It immediately beat out the current number one favorite, which at the time was The Cosby Show. Not too shabby considering it was a Saturday night debut.
Estelle Getty Had Stage Fright
Due to being the most inexperienced on the set, Estelle Getty had crippling stage fright. It was so bad that the actress was afraid she’d flub her lines, so she scribbled them on anything she could find so that she wouldn’t forget them.
Bea Arthur Almost Didn’t Take the Role
She was worried that by taking the role of Dorothy alongside Betty White and Rue McClanahan, she would be more or less reprising her role from Maude. However, Rue McClanahan gets the credit for convincing Bea to join the show after she explained that they’d all be playing different types of characters.
The Set Was Recycled
Once there was a show called It Takes Two which featured a very young Helen Hunt. However, the series only lasted one season and when it was time to find a set for the Girls, they decided to transform it into an environment that fit for four older ladies.
They Originally Had a Butler/Cook
When the show first aired, the ladies had a homosexual butler who was heavily involved in all of their lives. However, the creators wrote the role out of the show after the fact that the character was LGBTQ caused some criticism.
Bea Was a Huge Civil Rights Activist
Even though her costars and crew members describe her as eccentric or hard to work with, it turns out Bea Arthur had a huge heart for the underdog. She was heavily involved in work for the elderly, the Jewish community, and the LGBTQ community. As a matter of fact, she left money in her will for her various causes that she cared the most about.
Every Golden Girl Won an Emmy
While Betty White won hers first for Best Performance By A Lead Actress in 1986 for her portrayal of Rose Nylon, Rue McClanahan won hers in 1987, and Bea Arthur won hers in 1988. In addition, Estelle Getty won her Emmy for Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series in 1988, as well. All in all, The Golden Girls was nominated for a total of 68 Emmys and won 11 of them.
Betty White Almost Played Blanche
We know. We couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Rose’s role besides Betty White, but she was originally cast to play Blanche. However, the show’s creators thought the role too similar to one of Betty’s earlier popular roles and decided to cast her as Rose instead.
Bea Arthur Liked to Be Barefoot on Set
She disliked shoes—apparently a lot. So much so, that she had it written into the show’s contract that she could walk around on set barefoot. The producers acquiesced, as long as she agreed not to sue if she was injured as a result.
"Thank You for Being A Friend" Almost Didn’t Happen
The producers were originally going to go with Bette Midler’s song “Friends” for the show’s theme song. However, they realized it would be too expensive and instead settled on "Thank You for Being a Friend" sung by Cynthia Fee.
Betty White Played With the Audience During Breaks
While filming, whenever there were breaks Betty White would come out and interact with the audience. Betty would always go out and smile and make friends with the audience—another trait that would get on Bea’s nerves, according to Bea’s son Matthew Saks.
All of Bea Arthur’s Earrings Were Clip-ons
That’s right. All of those dramatic, huge earrings that were part of Dorothy’s trademark were all clip-ons. Bea Arthur’s ears were never pierced, so she would have to wear the clip-ons instead which sometimes made her earlobes numb by the end of the day.
The Golden Girls Was One of the Only Shows to Tackle LGBTQ Issues
The show tackled the issue of LGBTQ rights before it was the P.C. thing to do. In one episode, Blanche’s brother tackles gay marriage. Of course, their original butler/cook was homosexual, as was one of Dorothy’s college friends.
Estelle Getty Wouldn’t Do Certain Jokes
It’s no secret that some of the best jibes in the show come from Sophia’s streetwise mouth, however, Estelle Getty drew the line at some things. For instance, she refused to do jokes that made fun of someone for being overweight, bald, or gay and once she even refused a joke that had to do with domestic violence.
Before there was Dorothy and Blanche There was Maude and Vivian
That’s right. The spinoff show from All in the Family was Maude, and Bea Arthur was center stage. Playing a rather scatterbrained longtime friend of Maude’s, was Rue McClanahan in the role of Vivian Harmon. The show ran for six seasons.