The Golden Girls cast members knew they had a special show, even when the only details they knew about the potential series was what they read in a sample script.
“You get a lot of scripts mailed to you and not too many of them are good,” White said. “But when this one came along it just hit the spot and they sent it to each of us. They sent it to me with the idea of me doing Blanche.”
We all know that White ended up as Rose on the Golden Girls. The part of Blanche was a bit too close to White’s other big TV role, when she played Sue Ann Niven on The Mary Tyler Moore Show a decade before the Golden Girls.
In interviews, White described Sue Ann as the “neighborhood nymphomaniac.” However, Rose was a naive beauty who loved animals and liked to tell stories from her days in St. Olaf.
Golden Girls First Table Read Was ‘Special’ Said Betty White
White also described the first time the ladies got together for a table read. Rue McClanahan was Blanche. Bea Arthur was Dorothy and Estelle Getty played Sophia, Dorothy’s mother. Getty was the only actress of the four who didn’t have major experience. Arthur brought both an Emmy and a Tony to the table, while White also had an Emmy.
“The first table read was an experience,” White said. “I had worked with Bea, I had done a couple of guest shots on Maude. I had worked with Rue on Mama’s Family. Estelle was a new one to all of us. She came from New York after her hit. We all sat down for the first table read and somebody read a line and then somebody else read a line.
“It was the most exciting (read),” White said. “We all began to look at each other because there wasn’t any first reading feeling about it. It was like we had been working together forever. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.”
The Golden Girls was an instant classic. It premiered in 1985 and ended seven years later. The show was nominated for 68 Emmys, winning 11. And the cast was indeed, golden. All four actresses won Emmys. The first was White, then McClanahan. Getty and Arthur won in the same year, as any mother-daughter would want to do.
Plus, White was feeling sentimental when she recalled the first time she read a Golden Girls script. By 2010, White became the last living Golden Girl with the death of Rue McClanahan that June. White is now 99. And her memories of one of the best shows in TV history still are precious.