‘Golden Girls’: Queen Elizabeth Once Had the Cast of Show Perform for Her Live

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Steve Fontanini/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth was such a fan of The Golden Girls that she asked them to perform the show for her live. But while the bawdy show normally broke taboos, they dialed back some of the more risque jokes for the royal audience.

The Golden Girls took part in the Royal Variety Performance in 1988. Only the worst’s most talented singers, dancers, actors, and comedians get to perform at the annual showcase. The variety show raises money for the Royal Variety Charity and helps support the arts. You can see The Golden Girls casts’ entire performance below.

Performing for royalty presented some problems though, as Bea Arthur noted.

“We’ll do about seven minutes from the show,” but we’ll have to censor a few things for the queen,” Arthur said at the time.

But they still slipped in a racy joke to the queen’s delight.

“One line that was left intact that surprised reviewers were Sophia’s interjection to Dorothy’s question to Blanche about how long she’d waited to have sex again after her husband had died The 88-year-old Queen Mum was spotted in the Royal Box chuckling heartily at Sophia’s risqué response: ‘Until the paramedics came.’,” a review of the performance noted.

The cast got a chance to meet speak with the queen and Princess Anne at the show. Betty White wrote about the interaction in her 2010 memoir.

“[T]he ladies all dropped a small curtsy as she approached. I happened to be the last one in our foursome, and after she greeted Bea and Rue and Estelle, as she got to me, she indicated the scantily clad Rockettes behind us and said to me, “Aren’t they beautiful girls?” I curtsied, and replied, ‘Yes, and such lovely bodies.’ She lit up with a radiant smile that belied her eighty-six years and replied, ‘Oh, yes. Lovely bawdies.’”

Betty White Recalls How Close ‘Golden Girls’ Cast Was

The Golden Girls debuted in 1985 and was one of the most popular television shows of all time. Though, it was a fight to get it on the air. Now, 36 years later, Betty White recalled the magic moment the cast knew they had something special.

“It was so exciting to be with four people with that chemistry – I’ll never forget that first read,” she told OK Magazine. “It was like we had been working together forever! I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”

Rumors of behind-the-scenes fighting plagued the show for years, but White said those reports were overblown. The cast was a family.

“You can’t work that closely together and not become a family,” she added. “I hear these horror stories about series where they don’t speak off-camera. How do you do comedy if you’re not speaking to each other? … The last episode of The Golden Girls – it was a very wet show. There were a lot of tears.”