Rue McClanahan’s Family Remembers Betty White with Emotional Tribute

by Jennifer Shea

Golden Girls co-stars Betty White and Rue McClanahan were close. So close, in fact, that the estate of McClanahan – who died in 2010 – posted a poignant tribute to their friendship upon learning of White’s passing on New Year’s Eve.

“Isn’t it nice to know that her old pal ‘Ruesy’ – as Betty White called Rue – was waiting to welcome her and tweak her nose. R.I.P. Betty White. With love, laughter, and tears, Estate of Rue,” the estate posted on Facebook, per MovieWeb.

White herself spoke fondly of her relationship with McClanahan, telling OK Magazine last January that she and McClanahan had already been friends before they started on Golden Girls, having worked together on a previous project.   

“We adored each other,” White said of McClanahan, who died of a stroke at age 76. “[Her death] hurts more than I even thought it would, if that’s even possible. She was everything, as far as a friend is concerned.”

Betty White Tributes Continue to Pour In

McClanahan’s niece, Amelia Kinkade, who is also an actress, added her two cents to the tributes to White on Facebook. She appeared on The Golden Girls herself and got to know White personally. Kinkade had also been planning to embark on a Golden Girls cruise that was scheduled to set sail within days of when White happened to have passed.

“I’m daring the hellish airports and hopping through hoops to get to the port on Monday, but I’ll be posting pics of the Golden Girls cruise once we set sail out of Ft Lauderdale,” Kinkade posted. “Blessings to all of you who have sent prayers to Betty White who went to Heaven with a bang and blaze of fireworks on my Birthday! Yes I knew her, and yes, she was one of the kindest most wonderful stars I’ve ever met.”

Out of All Her Co-Stars, White Had the Best Relationship with McClanahan

White and McClanahan got along swimmingly, sometimes playing little word games with each other on the set of Golden Girls between takes. But White’s relationships with co-stars Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty were a little more strained and distant, respectively.

Arthur was convinced that White’s perpetual cheeriness was an act, and she often gave White the cold shoulder on set. White herself acknowledged that her co-star could be formidable, saying, “You didn’t mess with Bea.”

“She found me a pain in the neck sometimes,” White told OK Magazine of Arthur. “It was my positive attitude — and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious.”

As for Getty, who died in 2008 from Lewy body dementia, she was slow to warm up. But she and White eventually forged a bond over show business stories, with Getty regaling White with tales of doing Yiddish theater in New York.

“Estelle was shy, and it didn’t help that she had trouble adjusting to doing weekly TV. She was intimidated by working with these TV veterans,” a source told OK Magazine. “But Betty took a liking to her. She loved hearing Estelle’s stories about growing up in the Yiddish theater in New York and doing stand-up at the upstate resorts.”

Still, at the end of the day, the four Golden Girls were there for each other through various hardships, from deaths in the family to the aging process. Even White and Arthur grew close over the deaths of their respective mothers within one month of each other.

“You can’t work that closely together and not become a family,” White said.