The Golden Girls Secrets From Behind the Scenes

Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle, and Bea Arthur are four amazing movies stars; fans could not get enough of it after the first season of “Golden Girls.” Although they seemed so close in the show, in reality, it was very different.

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Yet, for such impeccable performances, they all won an Emmy each for their roles. Betty White was the first to win and as the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series In 1986. Rue McClanahan followed suit in the same category in 1987. While, in 1988, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Award, respectively.

The was the oldest wasn’t the oldest

Unlike the story behind the show, Estelle Getty played the role of a witty and sassy matriarch and the oldest of all four characters, but in truth, Betty White was the most senior on set, then Bea, Estelle, and then Rue. Estelle was a year younger than Bea, whose character was her on-screen daughter.

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A job well done to the team behind the production and the actresses for making many believe the ages they played even though Betty is 12 years older than Rue. Coincidentally and ironically, only Betty is one of the women who are still alive.

It was Rue’s Idea to have Blanche have a Southern Accent

The “Golden Girls” actresses were hands all involved in the plot and course of the show’s production, even to the smallest detail of creating and changing accents like having her role, Blanche, one with a southern accent which was, of course, Rue’s idea.

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Rue spoke with Jay Sandrich, the show’s director for the pilot episode, about her character’s idea. She added she wanted her character to fit the uniqueness that was meant for it, and the Southern accent was the best fit, which she played exceptionally well.

The Set for “Golden Girls” Had Been Used Before

This might have been noticeable if you were actively involved in sitcoms of the 1980s. Let’s clarify; the “Golden Girls” set was once used to shoot a previous short-lived show between 1983 and 1984 called It “Takes Two,” which ran for one season.

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It was a smart money decision to help stay on a specific budget, although this isn’t new as it is one habit a lot of producers use to stay on budget. Coincidently “Golden Girls” was created by the same creator of “Takes Two,” this made it easier for the set to be used, especially the most used kitchen.

The Origin of the Zbornak Surname

A “Bea Arthur type” was created for the character “Dorothy Zbornak” according to the idea of the

Susan Harris, the creator of “Golden Girls.” The surname originated from Kent Zbornak, a woman who had worked with Susan Harris before creating “Golden Girls.”

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Kent Zbornak was a stage manager who made a huge impact on Susan while they worked together, and she made it a goal to include her name in one of her creations. And eventually, when she did, she wanted Bea to audition for the role before she got it

They Auditioned Before Each Role Were Finalized

An audition was organized to finalize all roles. Betty and Rue had been set up to play different roles before the ones they originally played. “Rose Nylund” was initially assigned to Rue and the role of “Blanche Devereaux” to Betty.

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Betty was indeed excited for this role, but the pilot’s director thought otherwise and suggested their roles be switched because the character betty was to play seemed too similar to “Sue Ann Nivens,” a character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show whom she played.

Without Rue, We Wouldn’t Have Met Bea

Rue convinced Bea into joining the show; she persuaded her to try out for the role of “Dorothy.” She told her not to miss out on one of the best scripts she had been presented with, adamantly telling her to take the chance and not be left out.

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Rue and Bea had co-starred in a trailblazing comedy titled “Maude” before joining “Golden Girls.” Rue and Bea weren’t the only ones who had co-starred in a show together; Rue and Betty had also co-starred in other shows.

The Iconic Straw Purse of Sophia

“Sophia” was played by Estelle Getty, who had gone on a shopping spree for the show’s props to be used during her audition for the role. She purchased the purse, gaining stardom amongst the producers, stealing a part of her successful audition.

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The straw purse was included in the show till its very end. When Estelle was asked about the straw purse, she responded that the possessions of older women always end up in their purses even when they try to get rid of their many possessions.

From Estelle to Sophia

Estelle Getty was a beautiful actress to watch, and it might have looked like she was pro to viewers, but images, but in this case, videos could be deceiving. It took roughly 45 minutes to have Estelle transformed into the character of “Sophia Petrillo.”

Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

The goal of the make-up artists was to make Estelle become the same character the show’s creator and producers have pictured her to be, and tons of aging make-up and a wig were used to make her look years older than she was.

Rue’s Interesting Clause in Her Contract

Weird, extravagant, and interesting clauses in a contract are not uncommon. They are known to come up when a movie and sitcom set is involved, and Rue gladly had her clause contain instructions relating to the use of wardrobe and props from the set after filming ends.

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Not only did she take it to the next level, but she also ensured she owned all her costumes, from wardrobe to accessories. It is not surprising that she did this as “Blanche’s” wardrobe comprises custom gowns, nightwear, and some cool pantsuits.

Bea’s Ears Weren’t Pierced

Bea’s character enjoyed wearing big chunky earrings, which fit her character, but did you know Bea didn’t have her ears pierced? And that is the truth. It is believed that her stylist recommended that she wear those earrings to add the right amount of interest to her character.

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It did, alright, but who would have thought she didn’t have her ears pierced. The idea to pierce her ears must have been offered, but she chose to go with props than pierce her ears.

Sophia Was Not to Be a Regular Cast on the Show

Susan Harris’ plan for Sophia was not to have become the fourth character. However, she would appear occasionally. The plan was not to be a permanent character, but Estelle’s audition and maybe the straw purse and her charisma were too good to ignore stealing every single scene she was placed in.

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That sealed it for Sophia; the producers and the show’s creator concluded that adding Sophia as a regular cast was a smarter decision, and my, did they make the right one.

A Gay Cook was to Be the Fourth Character

Coco, a gay cook, was to be introduced as the fourth character on “Golden Girls,” but how was this character supposed to fit the old woman narrative of this show? Well, his role involved cooking for the ladies.

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Coco did amazingly well amongst testing audiences but was still removed, placing Sophia as the fourth character. Although Coco appeared in the pilot episode, he was never mentioned throughout the entire series.

The House was in Brentwood, Los Angeles, not Miami

As presumed by the show, the House’s official address, 6151 Richmond Street, in Miami, was consistently mentioned, but to correct that, the House was in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Even though only the shots of exterior parts of the home were used, it still felt real to fans.

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The House was built in 1955 and sold for the first time in August 2020. Its sales process struggled between nine persons bidding for over $4 million – $1 million over the asking price.

Golden Girls Premiered Number One

After the premiere of “Golden Girls,” it maintained a number one spot in which over 21.5 households in the United States and globally were watching. Since filming was officially stopped in 1992, several facts are still constantly discovered about the show.

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The love for these Miami Women has continuously grown with every year, including the show’s viewership. “Golden Girls” popularity and style on social media have been viewed at least 600,000 times. Even following the passing of some of the women, the love never died.

Celebrities Who Became Fans

It was alleged that Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury were in love with the show and wouldn’t miss an episode. Many other celebrities also thought the same, mostly claiming to be obsessed with the show.

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British comedian Cleo Rocos joked about spending an entire afternoon watching reruns of “Golden Girl,” drinking champagne, and improvising lines even naughtier than the original storyline.

Estelle’s Struggle with Stage Fright

Estelle was so beautiful an actress that it was almost impossible to know she suffered severe stage fright. Before “Golden Girls,” she was mainly involved in theatre acting as she felt more comfortable doing that.

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Until she was 55, the thought of joining the acting world of T.V. screens was foreign to her, and by 62, she auditioned to be on “Golden Girls,” which marked the beginning of her acting career and her stage fright, she shared in interviews that she did love acting, but she was afraid.

Friendship With Bea was Impossible

In the show, all four women seemed so close, but that was very far from reality. Betty and Rue couldn’t find the right connection of friendship to Bea. Rue even shared that Bea had an unconventional character which unfortunately never got them going.

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She added that Bea wouldn’t join them for lunch, except Betty did. This was shocking to many as they assumed their on-screen chemistry was too good not to have been real.

How Bea Ended the Show

After successfully running for seven seasons on the air, Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy on the show, decided she was done, and it was time for her to move new challenge in her career. The producers decided not to continue since the show was on such a high note and ended it after the seventh season.

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Spoiler alert; Blanche’s uncle, played by Leslie Nielsen, tied the knot with Dorothy in the finale. Bea then moved on to other projects, including the show’s spin-off, The Golden Palace, of which she was the main character.

Julio Iglesias and Not Sophia Was Supposed to Sing

It might have seemed a bit random; Julio Iglesias’s brief appearance on Golden Girls was filled with its secrets and flaws that became a masterpiece. He was assigned to sing and serenade Sophia but ended up not doing it.

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The reason is still unknown to date, but it was agreed that he couldn’t control his nerves. Sophia, played by Estelle, improvised on the spot and serenaded him instead to keep the show going, creating an iconic moment.

Elaine Strich Auditioned but Didn’t Get the Part

Elaine Strich auditioned for a role on “Golden Girls” but didn’t get it. The story behind this involves one of the show’s writers who allegedly did not like her, and while she auditioned, she cursed out using the word “fuck.”

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She shared in an interview after failing to get the role that she didn’t realize she had lost a multi-million-dollar, international TV Show!

Reason Behind Bob Hope Appearance

In show biz and every other business, there is a power of connection that opens doors to achieve great things, and that is the story behind Ben Hope’s appearance. Ben was very close friends with Betty, and Susan wanted him to appear on the show.

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Susan spoke to Betty to help convince Ben to appear as a guest star, and she got what with wanted and more. Ben enjoyed his time on the show and commended the show.

Based on a Real-Life Story?

The first two episodes on season five of Golden Girls titled “Sick and Tired” revolved around a very delicate and important conversation on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (C.F.S.). Dorothy was diagnosed with it, but it was based on Susan Harris’ life, diagnosed with C.F.S.

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She decided to share her personal experience with C.F.S., educating and enlightening the audience about it. The episodes portrayed her frustration that health professionals lacked the needed understanding of acknowledging C.F.S. and diagnosing her correctly.

The Theme Song and Its Story

Settling for “Thank You for Being a Friend” was not the original plan as producers for Golden Girls and had initially wanted to use Bette Midler’s original song: “Friends.” Still, it was way more expensive than they had budgeted.

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A research team was created for a new theme song, and they got the perfect song originally written and recorded by Andrew Gold, but Cynthia Fee’s version was used. Whenever the song “Thank You for Being a Friend” comes up, the iconic show always comes to mind.

Goerge Clooney’s Appearance on the Show

George Clooney was once a struggling actor before he became the famous worldwide actor he is now. While trying to make ends meet, he appeared on Golden Girls only because his agent asked producers so George could keep his medical insurance.

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He appeared in season two in an episode titled “To Catch a Neighbor,” where he played a hardworking policeman who caught the thieves that continuously stole Rose’s jewelry.

Quentin Tarantino’s Appearance on the Show

Quentin Tarantino joined the list of iconic actors starting their careers and appearing on “Golden Girls.” The episode title was “Sophia’s Wedding: Part 1,” Tarantino played one Elvis impersonator.

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Tarantino shared that his appearance on the show was the key to unlocking the door into his acting career, and he might not have gotten to where he is now if not for the show. From “Golden Girls,” he earned $3,000, which he used to fund his breakthrough movie Reservoir Dogs.

Bea Was Very protective of the show

People have different tastes and perspectives, and not everyone will love what you do no matter how good it is and how good you are, but Bea didn’t get that. A housewife who criticized the show on T.V. Guide said it wasn’t just that good, including Dorothy’s character; Bea took things into her own hands.

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Bea identified the woman, got her phone number from the show’s head writer, called her, and gave her a piece until she apologized and responded that she was misquoted.

Estelle Reveals Her Respect for all Humans on the Show

“Sophia Petrillo” won the hearts of the audience, and Estelle, who played Sophia, kept the love going as she refused to say any jokes or derogatory comments about domestic violence and the gay community and was very firm with writers about her stand.

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In an interview, she shared that many of her friends were gay, and any derogatory jokes about the gay community will be taken personally.

Estelle and Her AIDS Activist Journey

Estelle, who was actively involved in fighting for gay rights and violence against women, has also been enlightening people about A.I.D.s as passionate A.I.D.s. Activist. It was so personal to her as she had lost her friend and her nephew to the disease.

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It became so important because back then, A.I.D.s were linked to the gay community. She made it her life’s choice to fight against the profiling of gay communities and their discrimination. She described A.I.D.s. Activism is the most critical cause she is dedicated the most to.

Estelle’s Aid Activism Reflected in the Crew and the Show

“Golden Girls” was a show known for tackling controversial topics without fear. They did so severally, and the public, of course, reacted, but they held it in high regard to bring awareness around important issues to the audiences.

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Estelle ensured that before the episode on A.I.D.s was aired, the writers and other crew members had adequately been educated on the topic before sharing the information to the public and even spoke to experts at UCLA.

The Interest of Foreigners to the Sitcom

The show’s success wasn’t just in the United States alone; it was a worldwide breakthrough and was adapted by several countries worldwide in Chile, Spain, Greece, The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Russia.

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The Netherlands took it further and included the theme song of “Golden Girls” in Dutch. Susan Harris, of course, gave them the go-ahead to do so, but unfortunately, the success rate in foreign countries was not as high as it was in the U.S.

Spin-offs weren’t a Success

“Golden Palace,” the spin-off of “Golden Girls,” was first aired in 1992, but it didn’t reach the successful mark of the first show. The sitcom revolved around Rose, Blanche, and Sofia’s lives and the appearance of new characters.

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By 1993, it was put to an end. Another spin-off titled “Empty Nest,” starring Estelle Getty as Sophia was aired between 1993 and 1995. But it too was not as good as “Golden Girls.”

The Kitchen Table and Its only Three Seats

Why a table with three seats for a show with four main characters? Well, this trendy kitchen table was in the place the women spent a lot of their time, yet fans didn’t notice the three seats and a table arrangement; why?

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Because the producers didn’t want an awkward angle of having one of the actresses turning their backs to the camera, they instead put up three chairs, which solved the arrangement confusion.

The Make-Up Artists Were displeased that Estelle got a Facelift

The make-up artists already had their work cut out for them with making Estelle look older than she originally was, and the idea of her getting a facelift would mean more work for them and more stress if it doesn’t come outright.

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Estelle then got a facelift between seasons two and three, and as predicted, they weren’t happy about it. It made their work more difficult, but can we blame Estelle for maintaining her beauty and youth.

Estelle Wanted an All-Jewish Character

Estelle had suggested that all four characters of the “Golden Girls” be Jewish; she said she wanted it because portraying a Jewish character would have been easier and more comfortable, but, in the end, she settled with Italian as they were initially created.

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Her idea wasn’t accepted. There just wasn’t a way their dressing, accent, and interpretation of characters could have worked differently if they weren’t Italians.

It Was a New Role for Betty

Betty White was known for portraying quite promiscuous characters in different sitcoms she had been featured in. Her most recent character before the show “Sue Ann in The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was no different.

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The pilot director switched her role with Rue’s role to break this trend, and the rest is an award-winning, fan-loving sitcom. Betty has had an 80-years career on T.V. She is a remarkable and respected figure in Hollywood today.

They had their Cheesecake Chef

All four main characters ate so much cheesecake on the show, and it was confirmed that they had a personal cheesecake chef on set. The women enjoyed cheesecake so much it was a matter of urgency to have a baker on set.

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Geroge Geary, their cheesecake chef, was an excellent chef and an author of many books about his delicious cheesecake, including these renowned books: “The Cheesecake Bible” and “The 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes.” He made every single cheesecake seen on the show.

Bea Arthur Was Amusing

Bea Arthur might have been unconventional, and maybe it was a bit hard to have as a friend, but she was a witty and funny woman whose infectious personality was felt deeply on the set. She was said to be the most “strait-laced character” of all four women.

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Bea had been involved in several shows before “Golden Girls” and had earlier discovered she wanted a career on the stage and went straight into getting it on the screen.

The Queen of England Loved the Show

The “Golden Girls” break into the movie industry brought about millions of fans all over the globe, including celebrities and even the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. It is a known fact that the Royal family was a massive fan of the show.

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It was confirmed from numerous interviews that Queen Elizabeth II loved the show so much and even had the cast perform live at the end of 1988. The story was thought to be a rumor until one of the actresses confirmed it.

Betty and Rue Co-Starred before starring in Golden Girls

Betty and Rue had been a part of the show “Mama’s Family” a couple of years Before their epic co-starring in “Golden Girls.” This American sitcom was a spin-off of “The Family,” a recurring series focused on several comedy sketches.

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Mama’s Family originally debuted on N.B.C. in 1983 but was canceled by the network after two seasons because it dropped in ratings. The show’s producer then syndicated the show.