‘Golden Girls’: One Actress Revealed Awkwardness on Set After Their Emmy Win

by Jennifer Shea

“The Golden Girls” won many awards over the course of its tenure.

It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Further, it won three Emmys for Outstanding Technical Direction and an Emmy for Outstanding Directing. We’re not done there. It also won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress. And, to sum up its trophy-adorned greatness, it won three Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

It also won three Golden Globes for Best Television Series, per IMDb.   

But which actress won an Emmy first?

It was an initially awkward subject for the actresses of “The Golden Girls.” Betty White, who played Rose Nylund on the show, received her Emmy in 1986, before any of the other actresses got theirs.

‘The Golden Girls’ Set Was a Bit Chilly After White’s Win

White tried to share her win with her co-stars through her acceptance speech. But there was no getting around the fact that she had won when they also received nominations, White said in a 2004 interview with Wild About Movies.

“I was unfortunate and deeply fortunate at the same time to get the first Emmy Award for ‘The Golden Girls,’” White explained. “It was a little awkward on the set the next week when I had to go back to work.”

“I tried to make it clear in my acceptance speech that it was a four-way award,” she added. “There really was no way you could separate any of our performances. They were all tied into each other.”

Still, the other actresses had reacted coolly to White’s acceptance speech. And for a little while after the 1986 Emmy Awards ceremony, things were difficult on set for White.

“But it was a little, shall we say, cool for about the first week back on the set, but then, when everybody started [again] it was fine,” White said.

Bea Arthur Nixed Plans for a Reunion

In the same interview, White also revealed that prior to her co-star’s death in 2009 at age 86, Bea Arthur was constantly putting the kibosh on plans for a “Golden Girls” reunion.

“The producers have asked and asked,” White said. “They have asked so many times. And I think it would be wonderful. Rue thinks it would be wonderful. Poor Sofia, I mean Estelle, is not well enough to do any more work, but Bea just doesn’t want to do it. And without her, it wouldn’t work. Look at how ‘The Golden Palace’ tanked, without her. She’s probably right. Quit while you’re ahead.”

White and Arthur reportedly did not always get along. They had very different styles, with Arthur taking a New York stage approach to the audience and White taking a flirty television approach, per News.com.au.   

But in the end, at least White was humble enough to acknowledge that Arthur was integral to the appeal of “The Golden Girls.” And Arthur did indeed go on to win her own Emmy Award several years later.