‘Golden Girls’: Bea Arthur Had Ridiculous Clause in Her Contract to Allow Her to Be Barefoot on Set

by Keeli Parkey

Bea Arthur was a respected actor on both the Broadway stage and the small screen. But, she was also a bit of an “eccentric” performer who could be difficult to be around at times. This was evident on the set of the popular sitcom “The Golden Girls.”

In the show, Arthur played Dorothy Zbornak a divorced substitute teacher who lived with her mother and two other “Golden Girls” in a house in Miami.

On television, the four women had their share of conflicts. But, they also loved and supported one another through life’s struggles. Behind the scenes on the sitcom, things weren’t always so easygoing.

And, according to reports, a lot of that conflict centered around Bea Arthur. The actress’s eccentricities included a pretty odd clause in her contract, according to CountryLiving.com.

So, what was the clause? Well, it allowed Arthur to be barefoot on the set whenever she wanted to be. Arthur reportedly hated wearing shoes and she wanted to be able to walk around barefoot on the set of “The Golden Girls” whenever the mood struck her.

As part of the clause, Arthur had to agree that she would not hold the show responsible if she got hurt while walking around barefoot on the set.

What other things did Bea Arthur hate? Well, according to CountryLiving.com, you can add chewing gum and birds to that list.

“If you were chewing gum on the set, she would try to have you fired,” author Jim Colucci reportedly told Fox News. Colucci was the author of “Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Biography.”

Bea Arthur Was Often Annoyed with Betty White While Working on ‘The Golden Girls’

“The Golden Girls” also starred Estelle Getty as Dorothy’s mother Sophia Petrillo; Betty White and Rose Nylund; and Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux. McClanahan once shared that Bea Arthur was a “very eccentric woman,” according to the article.

Arthur’s ire was often directed at Betty White. And, according to reports, that didn’t go unnoticed by the Rose Nylund actress. White is the only surviving member of that famous foursome, by the way.

There is speculation that Arthur’s dislike of White began after White was the first of the famous foursome to win an Emmy for her work on “The Golden Girls.”

Whenever the dislike started it was a known issue. One of the things about White that annoyed Arthur the most was that White liked to interact with the studio audience while episodes of the show were filmed. Arthur’s son Matthew Saks talked about his in an interview.

“Sometimes Betty would go out and smile and chat with the audience and literally go and make friends with the audience,” Saks reportedly said. “Which is a nice thing — a lot of them have come from all over the country and are fans. I think my mom didn’t dig that. It’s more about being focused or conserving your energy. It’s just not the right time to talk to fans between takes. Betty was able to do it and it didn’t seem to affect her. But it rubbed my mom the wrong way.”

Even with the conflict behind the scenes, “The Golden Girls” remains a beloved television show to fans. Thanks to its many years showing in reruns, the show has fans who weren’t even born when it originally aired.