‘Golden Girls’: Rue McClanahan Revealed How Bea Arthur Came to Her Aid When Her Mother Died

by Evan Reier
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The loss of a mother is a pain that can completely wreck someone. So when The Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan lost hers, she needed help.

Unfortunately, McClanahan’s mother, Dreda Rheua-Nell, passed away during the early days of filming Maude. McClanahan starred on the show alongside her future The Golden Girls costar Bea Arthur. While Arthur led as Maude, the other portrayed Vivian, a neighbor and friend of Maude.

It is well known that Arthur was a caring, but stark person. Whether it was her knack for wittiness or just a sometimes curmudgeon-y attitude, Arthur had become famous on and off the screen for her sass.

However, it was the kinder side of Arthur that showed when it mattered. According to a piece from Greg Hernandez, who was referencing a TV Guide article, Bea Arthur was there for McClanahan when she needed it.

McClanahan described how a Thanksgiving with future The Golden Girls costar Arthur was imperative to the days after her mother’s passing.

“She took care of me the Thanksgiving my mother died the first year of Maude,” McClanahan said. “It was unexpected. My mother was young, and I was young. I went back to Oklahoma for the funeral and I was devastated. When I came back to California, I was grieving so. I heard from Bea and she said, ‘I’m having Thanksgiving dinner and you come over here immediately.’ I went over to her home in Santa Monica and she put me to bed, and tucked me in and brought me dinner. She calmed me down and I felt safe for the first time. You don’t forget things like that.”

You certainly don’t.

Unfortunately, Rue McClanahan passed away on June 3, 2010. Bea Arthur passed away on April 25, 2009.

Rue McClanahan on Why She Wasn’t Like The Golden Girls‘ Blanche Devereaux

Sometimes, actors and the roles they play perfectly sync up. However, that wasn’t the case for McClanahan on The Golden Girls.

After all, Blanche was almost cartoonish with how passionate and vocal she was about her sex life. While it made for great entertainment, that type of personality isn’t exactly common.

That’s ostensibly what McClanahan explained in a 2007 interview.

“People always ask me if I’m like Blanche,” McClanahan said. “Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern belle from Atlanta — and I’m not from Atlanta.”

She also added that the nature of Blanche just wasn’t what she strived to be as a person.

“Blanche didn’t read books,” she said. “She was very self-centered, insecure, and vain. She was always trying to look as gorgeous as possible in case there was a man in the vicinity. I’m down-to-earth.”

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