The Golden Girls

Golden Girls

It’s not too hard to understand why a sitcom based around women over sixty might be a hard sell in a town perpetually obsessed with youth. To overcome this obstacle, NBC assembled a formidable ensemble cast for The Golden Girls, with decades of sitcom success under their collective belts. This quartet provided the Midas touch that won the hearts of viewers, young and old alike.

Debuting in 1985, The Golden Girls followed the lives of four roommates, three widows and a divorcee, who shared a home in Miami, Florida. Blance Deveraux (Rue McClanahan), a steamy southern belle with an insatiable appetite for men, owned the house that she shared with Dorothy, Rose and Sophia. Each brought their own unique personality to the table.

Rose Nyland (Betty White) hailed from the tiny town of St. Olaf, Minnesota, and was the naive, but always well-meaning, do-gooder who loved to share strange stories about her hometown. Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) was a former New York schoolteacher with tough Sicilian roots. Unlike the other residents, her (ex)husband is still very much alive. Also still kicking is Dorothy’s feisty mother, a Sicilian immigrant with a razor tongue named Sophia. She once lived at the Shady Pines Retirement Home until it burned down, forcing her to share a place with her daughter.

Much of the series revolved around each of the women trying to find a new love interest. Along the way, they butted heads at every opportunity, often when one would step into  the others romantic territory. But they were also fiercely protective of one another, ready to step in when one of them made a questionable decision or was being taken advantage of. Besides, there was no misunderstanding between them that couldn’t be settled over an entire cheesecake at the dining table.

There were plenty of memorable moments on The Golden Girls. Blanche’s never-ending supply of willing men was always good fodder for jokes, as were Rose’s asinine questions and her strange upbringing in a town that once voted her “most likely to get stuck in a tuba.” Dorothy was the sarcastic voice of reason, and her arguments with her mother were nothing short of legendary. Sophia, meanwhile, wasn’t someone to mess with. Purported to be connected to the mafia, she also suffered a stroke which supposedly rendered her incapable of tempering her remarks. As a result, she managed to steal just about every scene she was in.

The Golden Girls owed much of its success to its wonderful ensemble of sitcom veterans. Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan cut their teeth under the watch of prolific producer Norman Lear on the hit series Maude, a spin-off from All in the Family. Betty White, who holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest television career of a female entertainer, was already beloved for her five years as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Estelle Getty wasn’t widely known outside of Broadway, and her extensive makeup made her almost unrecognizable anyway, but her antics on The Golden Girls made her a clear fan favorite.

The popular series ran for seven seasons, garnering several awards along the way that included an Emmy and three Golden Globe awards for Best Comedy Series. Just as impressive, each of the four stars received an Emmy award for their respective roles, with Estelle Getty receiving an astounding seven nominations, one for every season the show aired.

Pop songwriter, Andrew Gold (“Lonely Boy”) lent his hit song “Thank You For Being a Friend” to the series, which proved entirely appropriate. In the end, The Golden Girls proved that, no matter how difficult life gets in those twilight years, you’ll do just fine if you surround yourself with loyal and caring friends … and keep plenty of cheesecake on hand.

Did you tune in regularly to The Golden Girls, or make their acquaintance through decades of syndication? We’d love to hear all of your recollections of this beloved 80s sitcom in our comments section below, as we tip our hats to the three golden girls who are no longer with us, and Betty White, who never ceases to amaze.

2 Responses to “The Golden Girls”

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  1. diana says:

    Love the Golden Girls! I wasn’t much of a fan when it ran originally, but I do watch it now in syndication. (Also, Sophia lived at Shady Pines, not Shady Hills.)

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