‘Golden Girls’: The Question Rue McClanahan Posed to Bea Arthur to Get Her to Join Show

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Decades after it went off of the air, “The Golden Girls” continues to be a beloved show for countless fans. During its original run, the show was a huge hit. And it brought fame and fortune to its four stars.

Those stars, of course, were Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Betty White as Rose Nylund, and Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo.

Obviously, while the show was being developed there was no way for the creators, producers, and actors to know that it would become the beloved sitcom that it did.

In fact, Arthur was hesitant to take on the role of Dorothy. The late actress was no stranger to television. She appeared in “All In the Family,” before landing the lead role in one of that sitcom’s spinoff series. That spinoff, of course, was “Maude.”

So, why did Bea Arthur decide to play Dorothy in “The Golden Girls”? Well, according to what Rue McClanahan once said, she played a key role in convincing Arthur to take on the role thanks to one question. These details were shared during a February 2021 article by Parade.

McClanahan, who passed away in 2010, once shared that while Arthur was trying whether or not to join the cast of “The Golden Girls,” she decided to give the “Maude” star a call. McClanahan wanted to convince Arthur to play Dorothy.

“I called her and said, ‘Why are you going to turn down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?'” McClanahan reportedly told Arthur. Obviously, the words worked and they gave us the cast that still remains one of the best ensembles in the history of television.

Rue McClanahan Also Said She and Her ‘Golden Girls’ Co-Star Bea Arthur ‘Did Have a Lot of Relationship Going On’

It is somewhat ironic that it was Rue McClanahan who helped bring Bea Arthur into “The Golden Girls” family. Once the actresses began working with one another in the beloved series, Arthur often kept herself distant from her costar.

“Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on. Bea is a very, very eccentric woman. She wouldn’t go to lunch (with me) unless Betty (White) would go with her. She was very dependent on keeping everything as it always had been, and I was anything but that,” McClanahan once said.

While McClanahan and Arthur weren’t all that close. The Blanche Devereaux actress was close to another costar. That costar was Betty White. McClanahan said she and White shared a love of games.

“Betty and I loved word games, and we would play word games every day. We had games going all the time off camera,” McClanahan also shared.

This actress from “The Golden Girls” also shared that she and her famous castmates were not at all like the women they played in the series. She did so with a lot of humor and charm.

“None of us was like any of our characters. People ask me if I am like Blanche and my standard answer is: ‘Get serious! Look at the facts, Blanche is a man-crazy, glamorous, extremely sexy, successful with men Southern belle from Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m not from Atlanta!'” Rue McClanahan also joked.