‘Golden Girls’: How Bea Arthur’s Son Described Her Off-Screen Relationship With Betty White

by Samantha Whidden

Decades after their hit classic TV series “Golden Girls” came to an end, Bea Arthur’s son, Matthew Saks shed some light on the late actress’ off-screen relationship with her castmate Betty White. 

While speaking to Fox News in 2019, Saks stated that although Bea Arthur had “some problems” with Betty White, she still liked her. “I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said it’s fun to hate your neighbors. And I think what he meant was that everyone needs someone to say, ‘Oh, here she goes!’ We all need to have somebody that we can let get under our skin.”

Saks also stated that Bea Arthur and Betty White had different styles of acting. This was also explained by fellow “Golden Girls” castmate, Rue McClanahan. “Bea came from a New York stage point of view,” McClanahan said at the time. “She always had what we call ‘the fourth wall.’ And Betty came from a television point of view. She would flirt with the audience. And pull up her skirt and say, ‘Hi, sailor.’ But Bea never acknowledged the audience.”

Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty all starred in “Golden Girls” from 1985 to 1992. According to IMDb, the show followed four previously married women who were living together in Miami. They all shared their various experiences together and enjoyed themselves despite hard times. 

The show has seven seasons and 180 episodes. TV guide previously ranked it as number 54 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time. 

Bea Arthur’s Son Looked Back on His Mother’s Acting Career 

While continuing to speak to Fox News about Bea Arthur’s acting career, her son Matthew Saks shared that since he could remember, his mother was an actress. 

“I literally went – when I was 3 years old – on the road with her,” Saks recalled. “She was opening ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ so I had to go with her. I spent a lot of time in her dressing room. There was a speaker system and you could listen to the entire play while you’re in that dressing room.”

Although she seemed to distance herself from Betty White, Bea Arthur notably had a few close friends. “She wasn’t a loner,” Saks explained. “But she really liked sitting around and chilling, as people say. I can’t do that. If I just look out the window, I realize I need to do something. She would wake up in the morning, have a coffee, and read the LA Times and The New York Times. That was fun for her.”

Following her death in 2009, it was revealed that Bea Arthur was privately donating funds to various organizations. Saks admitted that he didn’t know about the donations. “My mom was very private and never made any mention of money that she gave annually. I didn’t know she had planned on giving that money. I learned about it when she died.”