The Golden Girls came out in the 1980s, but it's still one of the best shows around, from the writing to the cast to, well, the GIFs. The show that combined Betty White as the dippy Rose Nylund, Rue McClanahan as the southern self-described slut, Bea Arthur as the sassy, smart Dorothy Zbornak and Estelle Getty as the sassier, wise old Sicilian Sophia Petrillo is a classic.
Since you know you love Golden Girls as much as we do, indulge in the show's most surprising facts and relive some of Golden Girls' most hilarious moments.
1. The Golden Girls theme song, "Thank You For Being A Friend," has another verse that you probably haven't heard. The full lyrics are:
"Thank you for being a friend / Traveled down the road and back again / Your heart is true you're a pal and a confidant / I'm not ashamed to say/ I hope it always will stay this way / My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow / And if you threw a party / Invited everyone you knew / You would see, the biggest gift would be from me / And the card attached would say / Thank you for being a friend."
2. Bea Arthur was the perfect Dorothy Zbornak, but she wasn't the first choice for the role. Producers offered the part to Lee Grant, but Grant turned it down because she didn't want to play a grandmother.
3. When they first were offered roles on The Golden Girls, Betty White was slated to play Blanche Devereaux and Rue McClanahan was offered the role of Rose Nylund. White had previously played a promiscuous gal, Sue Ann Nivens, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
4. Rue McClanahan actually said playing any of the Golden Girls other than Blanche Devereaux would be "unbearable." She also came up with the idea to give Blanche her signature southern accent.
5. The Golden Girls almost had a Golden Gay. Coco Davis, played by Charles Levin, was the girls' homosexual cook in the pilot. Coco was a homosexual who served as the girls' cook. However, Sophia Petrillo was such a smash with audiences that many of the one-liners reserved for Coco were rewritten for Sophia, and the entire Coco character was dropped.
6. Estelle Getty, who starred as the smart-mouthed, sassy Sicilian Sophia Petrillo, had horrible stage fright and was terrified of performing in front of a live audience.
7. Rue McClanahan had it written into her contract that she got to keep all of Blanche Devereaux's signature styles, from the shoulder-padded blazers to especially the silky nighties. She acquired so many outfits from the Golden Girls set that she converted a kitchen in her New York City apartment into a closet to fit them all.
8. Bea Arthur actually hated cheesecake, the show's signature dessert.
9. The Golden Girls spawned two spinoffs: Empty Nest, about Dr. Harry Weston and his two daughters, and The Golden Palace, which followed Blanche, Sophia and Rose as they opened a hotel following Bea Arthur's departure from the series. Empty Nest was the more successful of the spinoffs.
10. The Golden Palace starred Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty ... as well as Don Cheadle and Cheech Marin. Not bad!
11. Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan previously starred as BFFs together on another TV classic, "Maude."
12. Rue McClanahan had to convince Bea Arthur to take the role of Dorothy Zbornak, telling her, “Why are you going to turn down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?”
13. Despite starring in two hit series together, Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur weren't that friendly. McClanahan said Arthur would only eat lunch with her if Betty White came along.
14. According to Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur wasn't even that fond of Betty White, either. (Which is insane, because, well, it's Betty White, and Betty White is free of all and any flaws.)
15. Bea Arthur even called Betty White the C-word at a lifetime achievement ceremony. We bet White reacted like this.
16. While Bea Arthur didn't necessarily get along with Rue McClanahan offscreen, Betty White adored her. White and McClanahan especially loved playing word games together. And dancing, obviously!
17. Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of The Golden Girls. She had the cast perform for her live at the London Palladium in 1988.
18. Bea Arthur wanted to end The Golden Girls after the fifth season. Producers coaxed her to stay for two more before she pulled the plug and ended the show for good.
19. The Golden Girls was the second show that Bea Arthur put an end to herself. Maude ended when Arthur grew tired of playing the titular progressive.
20. Estelle Getty was a year younger than her onscreen daughter, Bea Arthur. She had to spend over an hour in the makeup chair everyday to look like the 80-something Sicilian Sophia Petrillo.
21. Getty had to spend even more time in the makeup chair when she came back for season two with a fresh facelift.
22. Dorothy Zbornak was diagnosed — after much trial, error and frustration — with chronic fatigue syndrome. The episodes were based on show creator Susan Harris' own struggle with the disease.
23. The Golden Girls had a golden boy, too: George Clooney guest starred on the episode "To Catch A Neighbor," playing a detective named Bobby Hopkins.
24. Before Saved By The Bell and Extra, Mario Lopez was "Dorothy's Prized Pupil."
25. Can you spot Quentin Tarantino's massive chin here? He played an Elvis impersonator on the November 19, 1988 episode, "Sophia's Wedding (Part 1)."
26. Bea Arthur was a badass. Back when she was known as Bernice Frankel, she was one of the very first women to sign up for the Women's Reserves before World War II as a typist and a truck driver. Even more badass? She listed her hobbies as hunting with .22 caliber as well as a bow and arrow. Fierce!
27. Estelle Getty was terrified of death, and Betty White said that Getty would be horrified to film any scenes involving death or funerals. Getty was, somewhat eerily, the first of the castmembers to pass away, dying just shy of her 85th birthday.
28. Mickey Rooney guest starred as one of Sophia Petrillo's love interests, Rocco, in the 1988 episode "Larceny And Old Lace."
29. Another one of Sophia Petrillo's paramours? Julio Iglesias, who guest starred on the Valentine's Day 1989 episode.
30. In another particularly memorable episode, Sophia Petrillo romances Burt Reynolds ... while Dorothy Zbornak, Rose Nylund and Blanche Devereaux are in prison under suspicion of prostitution.
31. Sophia Petrillo and daughter Dorothy Zbornak dressed as Sonny and Cher for a contest. Later, Sonny Bono would make a cameo on the series as a love interest for Dorothy ... but only in a dream.
32. Sophia Petrillo's beloved sister, Angela Vecchio (Aunt Angela), was played by Nancy Walker. Walker had a connection with The Golden Girls: She played Rhoda's mother on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which also starred Betty White.
33. Harold Gould, who played Rose Nylund's boyfriend Miles Webber on The Golden Girls, also had a role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show with Betty White: He played Rhoda's father. Another fun fact about Gould and The Golden Girls? In season one, he played a different one of Rose's boyfriends, named Arnie.
34. Singer Rufus Wainwright told a story of meeting Bea Arthur, telling her, "I'm sorry to bother you, and I'm sure you hear this all the time, but I was going through a rough patch and Golden Girls brought me so much entertainment and comfort. It really helped me get through the bad spell. You're so wonderful. You made me feel like you’re my grandmother."
Bea's reply? "I'm not your f--king grandmother." Burn!
35. Though four women lived in the Golden Girls house, the kitchen table only seated three. The reason? Producers didn't want anyone's back to the camera. That's why one castmember, when all of them were in the kitchen, usually either sat on a high stool or stood up. Bea Arthur (as Dorothy Zbornak) was always in the center because of her height and priceless facial expressions.
36. Bea Arthur detested her second onscreen husband, Leslie Nielsen, calling him "idiotic."
37. When The Golden Girls was first conceived, it was inspired by the film How To Marry A Millionaire, but with older characters ... and it was going to be titled Miami Nice, playing off of the ever-popular Miami Vice.
38. The Golden Girls nabbed quite a bit of gold through the years. The show was nominated for a whopping 57 Emmys, winning seven of them for Best Comedy Series. Each of the stars — Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur — won for their performances. Only two other shows in history have done that: Will And Grace and All In The Family.
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