‘Golden Girls’: One Star’s Third Marriage Was Advised to Break Up by Counselor Due to This Reason

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

For one actress on “The Golden Girls,” her personal life was often difficult. And, even worse, at one point it was very scary. According to an interview this actress gave to PEOPLE during the late 1980s, she was afraid of her spouse.

That actress was Rue McClanahan. She is famous for playing Blanche Devereaux on the beloved sitcom. And, back in 1986 she talked with the publication about her failed marriages. One of the most shocking parts of the interview are the details she shared about her third marriage.

McClanahan’s third marriage was to actor Peter DeMaio. According to the interview, she met him while working in an off-Broadway show. That show was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” However, their romance became unstable and difficult and McClanahan came to fear him.

“To tell you the truth I was afraid of him,” the actress said. “He was Italian and very hot tempered. I had never known anyone like that.”

Because of her fear and concerns about her marriage, McClanahan urged DeMaio to seek help for his anger issues. And, what the counselor DeMaion sought out reportedly had to say was rare.

“I’ve only advised this once in my career, but I advise you not to stay together,” McClanahan recounted about DeMaio’s visit to the counselor.

Concern for Her Son Led ‘Golden Girls’ Actress to Marry for Third Time

One of the things that reportedly prompted McClanahan to marry DeMaio was her son, Mark. According to what “The Golden Girls” actress told PEOPLE during 1986, her son was living in Oklahoma with her parents while she was in New York acting in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

“He was turning 6 that October,” McClanahan said about her son. “Talk about pain! The one thing I wanted more than anything else was to get him with me.”

Part of a solution to that problem for McClanahan was marrying DeMaio, according to the article. However, her son was miserable while she was married to DeMaio.

“He was scared and getting more and more withdrawn; that’s when I got out,” McClanahan said. “Mark (then 13) had told me in no uncertain terms that he was going to Oklahoma to live unless I got a divorce.”

So, that’s what McClanahan did. And, according to PEOPLE in 1986, son Mark loved his mother.

“I feel lucky to have her as a mom,” he said. “Maybe she was looking for someone who would be a dad to me, when she should have been looking for a mate for herself.”

Rue McClanahan Married Six Times During Her Lifetime

Even though her marriage to Peter DeMaio was a difficult experience for Rue McClanahan, it wasn’t her last. In fact, “The Golden Girls” actress had a total of six marriages during her lifetime. Although, she once even vowed never to marry again.

She made that vow during that 1986 interview with PEOPLE. However just over a decade later, she married once again. Even though she separated from this husband during 2009, they were still technically married at the time of her death in 2010.