‘Golden Girls’ Star Monte Markham Reflected on Acting Start

by Allison Hambrick

Golden Girls actor Monte Markham once opened up about how he got his start with acting back in the 1960s.

“When I stayed at the University of Georgia 2 years as an undergraduate, they had a great theatre program and veterans had come back from the Korean War and were going to school. There was nothing we couldn’t do, so I stayed there and did theatre, everything from Stanley in Streetcar to Hector in The Tiger at the Gates to Shakespeare…it was grand.”

“I went to Hollywood in 1965 and got a great agent, who immediately got me roles in four films, and my own television series, The Second Hundred Years, where I played a father and my own son,” Markham explained.

By the time he appeared on Golden Girls, Markham had 20 years of television experience under his belt. After his two-episode turn as Blanche’s brother, the actor continued to find success. Though he had a handful of roles on shows such as Baywatch, he decided to step behind the camera instead. In the 1990s, he began his own production company, Perpetual Moon Production, and started making television documentaries.

“In 1992, I formed a production company and since that time I’ve done over 150 hours of documentary programming all over the world and that was the beginning of cable television: The History Channel, A&E, Discovery,” he said. “It was a great time … the journey has been beyond belief.” 

Markham then added: “I can say categorically that there’s very little that I haven’t done, pursuing every possible way of acting and doing, leading then to directing and producing … I did very well.”

Golden Girls‘ Groundbreaking Episode

On Golden Girls, Markham played Blanche’s brother, Clayton, who was gay. He appeared in two episodes: “Scared Straight” and “Sister of the Bride.”

The latter episode is considered especially groundbreaking as it forced Blanche to confront her homophobia head-on. Clayton revealed that he has a partner, Doug, which sends Blanche into a flurry of trying to deny the situation or victimize herself.

“I don’t really mind Clayton being homosexual. I just don’t like him dating men,” Blanche says at one point in the episode. “There must be homosexuals who date women.” To which Sophia responds: “Yeah, they’re called lesbians.”

While Blanche’s struggles to accept her brother are played up for laughs, the episode has a lot of heart. The climax sees Clayton confronting Blanche and expressing how he feels about Doug. He goes so far as to say that “what the world thinks doesn’t matter,” which clashes with Blanche’s gossipy nature. In typical Blanche fashion, her lack of acceptance leads to a fight between the siblings, and Blanche receives advice from Sophia. She asked her why she got married, to which Blanche responds that she wanted a life with her husband.

“That’s what Doug and Clayton want too,” responds Sophia. “Everyone wants someone to grow old with and shouldn’t everyone have that chance?”

Even though she doesn’t understand, Blanche patches things up with her brother and tries her best to welcome Doug into the family.