‘Golden Girls’ Star Rue McClanahan Once Spoke Out on Why She Rushed into Several Marriages

by Suzanne Halliburton

On the Golden Girls, the vivacious Blanche Devereaux dated a lot of men. She adored them. But she was married only once. George was the love of her life.

Rue McClanahan, who gave Blanche such flirty charm, was a lot like her character on Golden Girls. But unlike Blanche, she liked to marry so many of the men she dated. Try six of them.

McClanahan wrote an entire book about the men she dated and/or married. And she talked about her marriages with the Cape Cod Press in 2007, when she was doing publicity for My First Five Husbands … And the Ones Who Got Away.

“I felt I had to have someone there with me who was aware of my existence,” McClanahan said. “That I was not alone, abandoned and unnoticed.”

Golden Girls Star Categorized Her Men as ‘Hot Dudes and Duds’

In her book, McClanahan categorized her men as “hot dudes and duds.” She was old school about marriage. She once explained that she didn’t believe in living with a man without the benefit of the ring on her finger and a marriage license in the drawer. That’s why there were so many marriages.

Here’s a rundown of the husbands, while pondering the idea of whether Blanche should’ve married more on the Golden Girls.

McClanahan’s first marriage was to Tom Bish. The two met when McClanahan was doing stage work in Erie, Penn. She also worked as a file clerk. They married in 1958. The couple had one son, Mark, who was McClanahan’s only child. The couple divorced after only 17 months. In her book, McClanahan described her first husband as a handsome aspiring actor.

Next came Norman Hartweg. The two knew each other when both attended Tulsa University. McClanahan grew up in southern Oklahoma, somewhat close to the Texas border. McClanhan eventually dropped Hartweg into the friend zone.

Then, this Golden Girls beauty married another actor in Peter DeMaio. The two met while performing off Broadway. They stay married for seven years. But McClanhan’s son threatened to move back to Oklahoma if his mother didn’t leave DeMaio.

McClanahan moved on to husband No. 4, Gus Fisher. He was a realtor. The two got hitched in 1976. At the time, McClanahan was working on Maude with Bea Arthur, her future best friend and roommate on the Golden Girls.

Tom Keel was husband No. 5. Keel and McClanahan were high school sweethearts back in Ardmore, Okla. They married in 1985, the first year of the Golden Girls. They were divorced by the second season of the show.

McClanahan Found Her True Love Late in Life

Post Golden Girls, McClanahan married husband No. 6 in 1997. Morrow Wilson was the love of her life. She found him at age 63. When she was promoting her book, she said Wilson was a “keeper” and would be her last husband.

He was. Wilson was by her side when McClanahan died in 2010.

And she remained like Blanche all her life.

“People always ask me if I’m like Blanche,” McClanahan said. “Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern belle from Atlanta — and I’m not from Atlanta.”