‘Golden Girls’: Rue McClanahan Addressed Concerns of Cast ‘Not Getting Along’ in 1988 Interview

by Suzanne Halliburton

Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan was witnessing her career zoom to new heights. She’d just won an Emmy for portraying Blanche and she saw no evidence that the chemistry between the actresses was anything but genuine.

This was in 1988 and McClanahan was talking Golden Girls with CNN talk show host Larry King. And King was taking questions via the telephone so that fans could chat with their favorite star.

And, McClanahan got that question, the one that often was asked. Did everyone get along on the show?

If Blanche had answered the question, she would’ve twirled around, shook her finger, said something southern, maybe referred to the caller as a Yankee, then gushed about Dorothy, Rose and Sophia.

Rue McClanahan went straight to the point.

“My relationship with the other women is just super, it couldn’t be better,” she said. “And that’s the truth.”

Larry King Pushed McClanahan More About Golden Girls Friendship

Larry King pushed her some about the idea that maybe Golden Girls, who live in a home in Miami, might not be that friendly after they leave the set in Hollywood.

“I think somewhere along the way, if you’re not getting along it begins to undermine a show’s success,” McClanahan said. “It begins to seep in through the cracks. This is a wonderful experience that we’re having. And everyone always asks ‘do you really have as much fun as you seem you’re having and do you really like each other?’ Fact is, yes, we do.”

And McClanahan talked more about the Golden Girls friendship.

“Oh, yeah, we have so much fun doing the show,” McClanahan said. “You see, we give each other so much, we trade our lines. Bea will give me her line. I’ll give Betty my line. If it doesn’t seem to fit us or if there’s some reason that we feel the other actor should have the line (they’ll trade). Unless of course it’s a very funny line and we wouldn’t part with it for anything. If it’s one of those boring lines, we’ll give them away.”

There Were Stories About Bea Arthur Not Getting Along with Betty White

The Golden Girls enchanted network television from 1985-92. It’s still in reruns on cable networks and streaming services, so somewhere, someone is watching the show at any time of the day or night. And since the series stopped production, stories did leak about how the women didn’t get along.

We’ve heard the stories about how Bea Arthur (Dorothy) didn’t like Betty White (Rose).

McClanahan shared that Golden Girls observation in 2009, months before she died in 2010.

“They approached life very differently,” McClanahan said. “Bea came from a New York stage point of view. She always had what we call the fourth wall. And Betty came from a television point of view.”

Plus, Bea Arthur was said to be irritated that Betty White won an Emmy in 1986. She was the first of the Golden Girls to win the honor for Best Actress for the comedy. But they each ended up winning the honor.

White, who at 99 is the last surviving cast member, once told a reporter in 2011:

“She was not that fond of me,” White said of Arthur. “She found me a pain in the neck sometimes. It was my positive attitude — and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious!”

Matthew Saks, Arthur’s son, provided another reason why his mother sometimes grew irritated with White. Like the TV show, Arthur thought White talked too much.

“Sometimes Betty would go out and smile and chat with the audience and literally go and make friends with the audience,” Saks told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”