‘Golden Girls’: Who Played the Perfect Version of Young ‘Dorothy’ in Memorable Flashback Episode?

by Suzanne Halliburton

Writers of the Golden Girls put together a perfect Mother’s Day tribute for a show in 1988.

It was all done in a series of flashbacks. All four women are mothers and grandmothers, so this Sunday in May would be meaningful. Plus, we learned so much from this episode. Did you know that Blanche, who always lied about her age, probably was 53 when the series started? She let it slip that she was 17 in 1949. Fans did the math.

And Sophia’s mother, Eleanor Grisanti, looked a lot like Dorothy. That’s because Bea Arthur, who portrayed Dorothy, Sophia’s daughter, also played Sophia’s mother. So that’s where Dorothy got her height.

Lynnie Green played the young, perfect Dorothy. She did it so well, she became a recurring character on the Golden Girls whenever we needed to see Dorothy in a flashback as a young woman.

Before the Golden Girls, Greene starred in the CBS series On Our Own. It lasted a season. The show was about two women who shared an apartment and worked at the same ad agency. Post-Golden Girls, Greene leaned into her writing and producing talents. She was an executive producer and wrote some of the episodes for Nip/Tuck on FX. She also was a co-executive producer for Showtime’s Masters of Sex.

Young Dorothy On Golden Girls Was Real-Life Fan of Bea Arthur

The site IMDB.com said Greene had been a huge fan of Bea Arthur’s, so she was happy to play a younger version of the actress. But in previous interviews, Greene recalled that Arthur wasn’t happy that she had to play Dorothy’s grandmother.

She needed extra makeup to age her and directors had her in a wheelchair. Plus, Estelle Getty kept flubbing her lines. So did Sid Melton, the actor who played Sophia’s husband, Sal. There were constant retakes. And as Arthur showed her obvious frustration, the in-studio audience started laughing.

The dialogue in this flashback sounds very familiar, too. It’s almost as if Sophia’s mother talked exactly like Sophia. Go figure. She also told “Picture it” stories.

In another interesting twist, Estelle Getty played younger Sophia in the flashback. In real life, Getty actually was younger than Bea Arthur. And for this flashback, she got to play her real age.

In the flashback, Eleanor didn’t like her son-in-law, Sal. It also sounded like the dynamic Sophia had with her son-in-law, Stan, Dorothy’s ex-husband. Eleanor said “He HATES me! The man repairs complicated machinery for a living. Three times this month he couldn’t set the hand brake on my wheelchair.”

Young Dorothy tells Eleanor: “Grandma, that was JUST a coincidence.” Then Eleanor quips, “Please! All three times was at the top of the stairs to the Flatbush Subway Station!”

This Golden Girls episode also revealed that Rose (Betty White) has a son, Charlie Jr. He’s the last child to call. And Rose happily talks to him on the phone in the kitchen.