‘Golden Girls’ Showrunners Actually Wanted a Bette Midler Song for Show’s Opening Theme

by Joe Rutland

We know this is hard to believe, “Golden Girls” fans, but the theme song you’ve heard for years was not the first choice of show producers.

Would you believe they wanted a Bette Midler song? It’s true.

“They approached the publishing company for Bette Midler’s song, ‘Friends,’ but it was too expensive,” Jim Colucci, author of Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanairevealed. “Eventually [one] of the producers remembered Andrew Gold’s song, ‘Thank You For Being A Friend.’

“They licensed it and hired a session singer named Cynthia Fee,” Colucci said. “Even though the recording session was slated to last for an hour, she did it in one or two takes—maybe 20 or 30 minutes—and planned on never thinking of it again.”

Well, Outsiders, she thought about it a lot. Yet not for the reasons some “Golden Girls” fans might think of. You know, fame, new record deals, etc. Nope. Colucci breaks down what happened with Fee’s recording.

“The irony is that thanks to unions, every time your song gets played, you get paid,” he said. “So this job she did on a random weekday in 1985 has put her kids through college.”

Yes, sir, that side gig paid off handsomely for Fee. Fans now hear that song and think of her voice. Gold had a hit with the original version, which came on the heels of his first big hit, “Lonely Boy.”

In case you needed a reminder, “Golden Girls” starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. It was a big hit for NBC and showed how older women were comfortable in talking about modern-day subjects.

‘Golden Girls’ Star McClanahan Said She Knew Show Would Be Hit From Star

When looking at “Golden Girls,” you can tell all four actresses worked well together in the sitcom.

None of them knew at first whether or not it would be a hit. Well, almost none of them.

McClanahan said she knew that the show was going to succeed.

The actress who played Blanche held that first script in her hand and, according to McClanahan herself, “I said this is going to be a hit.”

How could she know? “There was something about the script,” McClanahan said. She noted the typeset that scriptwriters chose and the series’ name. “The kind of writing that they chose.”

This was all from her not even reading words on pages yet, she said. McClanahan pointed out there just was something about the script that told her it was going to be a special show.

“I felt this is a winner,” she recalled saying when she first saw the script. “I can’t wait to read it.”

McClanahan had worked with Arthur before on the hit CBS sitcom “Maude.”