‘The Golden Girls’: Story Behind the Hit Theme Song

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

There’s no denying it: once you hear the familiar lyrics of “Thank you for being a friend…” you know you’re watching the beloved sitcom, “The Golden Girls.” 

The show’s fans may not realize that the iconic theme song is actually older than the NBC sitcom. Andrew Gold first penned and released the song as a single in 1978. It was “just this little throwaway thing,” he said once, and it took him “about an hour to write.” He recorded it for his third album, All This and Heaven Too. His version reached No. 25 on the “Billboard Hot 100” chart in 1978. On the “Cash Box” chart, “Thank You for Being a Friend” spent two weeks at No. 11.

Gold was the son of the Oscar-winning composer Ernest Gold and the singer Marni Nixon. His mother provided the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Natalie Wood in West Side Story. 

The Theme Song for ‘The Golden Girls’ Was Almost a Bette Midler Tune

However, before the song got its big break on the show, the producers almost canned it. Initially, they requested Bette Midler’s song “Friends.” However, the cost of buying the license was too expensive, leaving them to look for something else. Thankfully, someone on the crew remembered Gold’s song and pitched it to production. Licensing that song wasn’t as expensive, so they went for it and had Cindy Fee lay down her recording.

For the 1985 premiere of “The Golden Girls,” the network condensed the song and replaced Gold’s voice with a Fee’s. The voice you hear on the opening title sequence is jingle singer Cindy Fee—who was also the voice behind the Hoover vacuum cleaner, Pontiac cars, and Wheaties. 

Unbeknownst to her, Fee’s rendition of “Thank You for Being a Friend” would turn into a legendary theme song unlike any other. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Fee worked in television crafting jingles for various commercials. However, fans have rumored that Fee made an appearance in a 1988 season 4 episode of “The Golden Girls.” 

After the song became beloved by fans nationwide, it started appearing more often. During World Series games, at the end of Super Bowl XL, and in an NFL advertisement, you can hear the familiar tune. 

Even though the show has stopped taping new episodes, the song has remained timeless. In the decades since its inception, it’s turned into a culture reference, a meme, and a tattoo. It appeared on another beloved show, “The Simpsons,” and was transformed into a death-metal version during a “Saturday Night Live” episode.