‘Golden Girls’ Casting Director Details Behind the Scenes Feud Among Stars

by Suzanne Halliburton
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There always were rumblings that suggested everything wasn’t so golden on the Golden Girls. The four actors who portrayed best friends and roommates weren’t that way in real life.

However, in the weeks after Betty White’s death, more specifics are bubbling up. How specific? How about words they used to call each other. And we’re talking X-rated kind of words

The New York Post uncovered a podcast interview given last summer by the former casting director of the Golden Girls. The podcast is “The Originals,” which is hosted by entertainment reporter Andrew Goldman. He interviewed Joel Thurm, the casting director, last April.

Thurm said Bea Arthur, who portrayed Dorothy, used some colorful language to describe White, who played lovable, naive Rose.

“Literally Bea Arthur, who I cast in something else later on, just said, ‘Oh, she’s a f–ing c–t,’ using that word,” Thurm told Goldman of his Golden Girls memories.

Goldman tried to clarify. Thrum told him: “Yeah, she called her the C-word. I mean, I heard that with my own ears.”

Then Thurm mentioned Rue McClanahan, another delightful star of the Golden Girls who also used colorful words when it involved Betty White. “And by the way, so did Rue McClanahan. Rue McClanahan said it to me in Joe Allen’s [restaurant].”

LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Thurm also talked about Estelle Getty, who played snarky Sophia, Dorothy’s mother who loved to tell “Picture it” stories in every Golden Girls episode. Getty actually was younger than Arthur. But makeup, a wig and some dowdy wardrobe choices turned Getty into an 80-year-old grandmother. Getty died of Lewy Body dementia in 2008. She might’ve been suffering early symptoms during the Golden Girls. Getty had trouble learning her lines and used to write them down on her hand.

“Betty White would make fun of her in front of the live audience,” Thurm recalled. “That may seem like a minor transgression, but it really does get to you … I have no idea how Estelle Getty felt, but I know the other two did not like [White] at all.”

Like we said earlier, there always were stories about the ladies not liking each other when they weren’t in front of the cameras. White brought up Arthur in a 2011 interview. The same news report also confirmed that McClanahan liked to talk about Arthur’s specific distaste for White.

“She was not that fond of me,” White said. “She found me a pain in the neck sometimes. It was my positive attitude — and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious!”

McClanahan wrote in her memoir that Arthur was jealous because White won the first Emmy for the Golden Girls. All four cast members won an acting Emmy, but it was White who had the distinction of being the first.

And Matthew Saks, Arthur’s son, said White did something on the set of the Golden Girls that bugged his mother. Saks told The Hollywood Reporter that White talked to the audience between takes.

“I think my mom didn’t dig that,” he said. “It’s more about being focused or conserving your energy. … Betty was able to do it and it didn’t seem to affect her. But it rubbed my mom the wrong way.”

Outsider.com