Rue McLanahan was an incredible actress. Most people know her for her work in some of television’s funniest shows. She made a name for herself in “Maude,” in the seventies. McLanahan elevated the cast of “Mama’s Family,” for its initial run. Then, she made a lasting impression with her role in the insanely popular “Golden Girls” starting in the mid-eighties.
Today, Rue McLanahan would have been 87. To celebrate her birthday, we’re looking back at her life as well as her best moments in “Golden Girls.”
Rue McLanahan’s Early Life
Before Rue McLanahan was a man-eating Southern belle in “Golden Girls,” she was a small-town girl from Oklahoma. She was born in a little town called Healdton. She grew up in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. Her family moved often to accommodate her father’s work. She made her stage debut at the age of four, according to a “New York Times” report. McLanahan went on to study drama at Tulsa University and made her professional stage debut in 1957.
She would go on to hold several stage roles before appearing on television. McLanahan gained recognition with her role in the soap opera “Another World.” from 1970 to 1971. She then moved to another soap, “Where the Heart Is,” before breaking into primetime television.
She was the titular character’s best friend on “Maude,” where she played opposite her future “The Golden Girls” castmate Bea Arthur. Later she played Fran Crowley, the uptight spinster sister of Thelma Harper on “Mama’s Family.” in its original run. On this show, she was paired up with another future Golden Girl, Betty White. In 1985, Rue McLanahan would team up with White, Arthur, and Estelle Getty in “The Golden Girls.”
“The Golden Girls” – Best of Blanche Devereaux
Rue McLanahan played Blanche, a Southern belle who was born into money. She is a widow who is portrayed as self-absorbed and promiscuous. However, she also has a big heart. Blanche cares deeply for her friends and housemates. She just had her own unique way of showing it. She stole scenes, men, and the hearts of viewers alike. Here are some of the character’s best moments.
Blanche Had a Sharp Tongue
Rue McLanahan’s character said whatever was on her mind. Whether she was speaking to one of her fellow Golden Girls or one of many guest characters, Blanche didn’t mince words. At the same time, she had a way of delivering her burns so that she could tell you to go to Hell and make you look forward to the trip.
Some of her best burns were lobbed at Bea Arthur’s Dorothy. For instance, in one episode they both buy the same dress. An argument ensues as to who should return her dress. Blanche ends the argument by saying that Dorothy is being ridiculous adding, “Since when do you care how you look?” Check out this video for some of Blanche’s best barbs. Rue McLanahana’s practiced Southern drawl makes them hit even harder.
Rue McLanahan’s Blanche Loved the Fellas
When she wasn’t lovingly burning her friends, Blanche was seeking her next conquest. It didn’t hurt that Rue McLanahan had the goods to bring in the fellas. It seemed like she went after every many who came through the door of their home with the voracity of a hunting cougar. Check out this video of some of her best man-hungry moments.
Blanche Devereaux – Proud Southerner
Much of Rue McLanahan’s comedy in “The Golden Girls,” stems from Blanche’s Southern roots. She is proud of her Georgia plantation upbringing. One hilarious scene epitomizes her pride in her southern lineage. In the scene, she is tracing her pedigree to join a Southern women’s social group. When she finds some discrepancies in her family line, her reaction is priceless.
Whether it was her glamour, her hunger for men, or her quick wit and silver tongue, it is hard to deny the greatness of Rue McLanahan’s Blanche. Golden Girls wouldn’t have become the iconic show that it was without her talent.