‘Golden Girls’ Star Rue McClanahan Said the Cast Was Nothing Like Their Characters

by Taylor Cunningham

On May 4th, 2006, the late Rue McClanahan sat down with Archive of America Television to discuss her illustrious Hollywood career. And while she was chatting with host Jim Colucci, Rue revealed that her castmates from Golden Girls were nothing like their characters.

Rue McClanahan had a long and successful acting career before passing in 2010. And one of her most iconic parts was that of Blanche Devereaux on Golden Girls. On-screen she was a saucy and self-absorbed—but kind-hearted—southern looker. But according to Rue, she didn’t have the same qualities as her Golden Girls persona.

“People asked me if I was like Blanche Deverou—if I am like Blanche Deverou,” she told Colucci. “And my standard answer is ‘get serious, just look at the facts. Blanche is man-crazy, glamourous, extremely sexy, and successful with men southern belle from Atlanta, GA. And I’m not from Atlanta.”

Of course, the hilarious Rue made her comment in jest. In reality, Bea Arthur, Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan weren’t like their characters “at all.”

The Actresses Behind the ‘Golden Girls’

Rue McClanahan made it clear that out of all of them, Betty was least like her character. Betty White portrayed the wholesome and innocent Rose Nylund. Rose was famously from a quirky and idyllic town called St. Olaf. And she was a loveable airhead. But off-screen, the legendary actress was highly intelligent. “Betty has nothing but brains,” Rue added.

And Estelle Getty had some qualities of the stubborn Sophia Petrillo. But “she wasn’t at all pushy” in real life. Rue admitted that Estelle had a bit of trouble portraying an Italian immigrant since she was born and raised in New York City. But “she made it work” anyway.

Then Rue noted that Bea played the least “eccentric” woman on Golden Girls. She was Dorothy Zbornak on the sitcom. And her character didn’t celebrate a lot of success in her life. But Bea said that’s very different from Bea because she was a “huge success.” And she particularly loved Bea’s real-life personality because she had a “very funny take on people.” And Bea was incredibly “quick-witted”. Though those qualities are very much like Dorothy Zbornak.

Rue McClanahan Knew the Series Would Be a Hit From the Very Start

From the moment that Rue McClanahan opened her audition script for The Golden Girls, she knew the series would be a massive hit. And she wasn’t wrong. The sitcom went on to win 11 Primetime Emmy Awards and 4 Golden Globes during its seven-year run.

During an interview, Rue remembered opening the manila envelope that contained the Golden Girl’s pilot script. As soon as she looked at the first page, she knew the show was destined for greatness.

“There was something about the script,” the Maude actress stated. And she noted that “The kind of writing (font) that they chose” along with the series title drew her in.

“I felt this is a winner,” she said.