‘The Golden Girls’: Why Bea Arthur Wanted To Walk Away From the Show

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Many people love “The Golden Girls” and their cast. Bea Arthur was among them, of course. But she found herself wanting to leave. The actress who played Dorothy was all set to leave, too, over some of the classic TV show’s scripts.

‘The Golden Girls’ Star Bea Arthur Just Wanted To Leave Show

Arthur, who had earlier TV success with her CBS sitcom “Maude,” was reportedly not happy with “Dorothy bashing.” That is according to author Jim Colucci, who writes, “Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai.” Colucci point-blank says, “Bea was offended.”

Colucci elaborates a bit. “When the writers called Rose [Betty White] dumb or Blanche [Rue McClanahan] a slut or Sophia [Estelle Getty] old,” he said, “it could roll off those women’s backs because they were not like their characters. Unfortunately, the things that were said about Dorothy were that she was big and ugly. And that wears on an actress after a while.”

The author talked to Arthur before she died as well as 250 actors and crew members for the book. It is out now for purchase. Colucci calls Arthur a “quirky and complicated woman” who hated birds and couldn’t stand being around people who chewed gum.

Actress Spoke Of Her Desire To Go Back To Broadway

“If you were chewing gum on the set, she would try to have you fired,” Colucci said. She also never wanted to wear shoes. Arthur had it written into her contract that she was allowed to not wear shoes as long as she agreed not to sue the producers if she hurt herself. We get more from Fox News.

He said Arthur often spoke about returning to the Broadway stage. She won a Tony Award in 1966 for the role of Vera Charles in “Mame.” The author gets to the heart of the matter for Arthur and “The Golden Girls.”

“By the start of the seventh season, Bea made it very clear that she was done,” Colucci said. “She thought the quality was starting to slip.  She wanted to go out while it was still a good show and she felt she was done with it.” The last episode of “The Golden Girls” was on NBC on May 9, 1992. NBC didn’t want Arthur at first to play Dorothy Zbornak who, after her divorce, moves into a Miami home with her mother and two widowed friends.

“They told the producers, ‘We don’t like her,” Colucci said. Arthur was still remembered for playing Maude Finley, who opted to have an abortion in 1972 — before the passage of Roe v. Wade. “NBC was afraid of putting her in this show because they thought she brought some baggage with her,” he said.