‘Golden Girls’ Star Rue McClanahan Once Took Swipe at Bea Arthur Over Broadway ‘Advice’ in Interview

by Suzanne Halliburton

Golden Girls fans know that, occasionally, Blanche and Dorothy took swipes at each other, but they’d always end up as best friends again by the end of the episode.

The digs usually ended up being about Dorothy’s lack of a date and Blanche having too many of them. You get the picture.

The same held true in real life. The actresses in the classic TV show from the 1980s would say things about each other.

This time, the real-life subject wasn’t about a love life, or lack of one. It was about Broadway. We’ve upped the stakes.

So to borrow from the Golden Girls vernacular, picture it, Gershwin Theater, New York City, 2005. Rue McClanahan, who played the saucy, flirty Blanche Devereaux, began a stint on Broadway as Madame Morrible in the hit Broadway musical Wicked.

Of course, McClanahan did publicity for the play. Because once a Golden Girl, always a Golden Girl. For this interview, she did a Q&A with Broadway.com for the column Broadway Buzz.

The interviewer asked McClanahan about Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy Zbornak, the sarcastic divorcee on the Golden Girls. Namely, had Arthur offered McClanahan any advice for Broadway. After all, Arthur won a Tony for playing Vera Charles in the classic play, Mame.

With the answer, McClanahan seemingly channeled Blanche, sans southern accent.

“She hasn’t even acknowledged that I’m in it.”

So the interviewer tried to save the question, asking McClanahan if she wanted to ask something of Arthur via Broadway.com.

And once again, it felt like a one-line fest on the Golden Girls, with Blanche and Dorothy squaring off at the kitchen table over cheesecake.

“Oh, I don’t need her advice, honey.”

Golden Girls Cast Members Weren’t That Friendly Together In Real Life

In real life, the Golden Girls weren’t that golden, together. Matthew Saks, Arthur’s son, once told the magazine Closer Weekly:

“My mom wasn’t really close to anybody. I’m not saying she was a loner, but she just liked to go home and read the paper.”

However, McClanahan and Arthur were friendly, dating back to their time on the series, Maude, a spin-off of All In The Family. Arthur starred as Maude, a character loosely based on the the wife of show creator Norman Lear. McClanahan played Vivian, Maude’s next-door neighbor. Arthur won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for Maude in 1977.

All the Golden Girls won Emmys. Arthur won hers in 1988. McClanahan took home the Emmy in 1987.

Sadly, the women also died months apart. Arthur passed away of lung cancer in April, 2009 at the age of 86. McClanahan was 76 when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in June, 2010.