The Golden Girls, a sitcom about four elderly women still having the prime of their lives, made its debut on September 14, 1985. But thanks to its witty writing, the sitcom’s humor has remained fresh even after over 30 years. Here are the interesting facts about The Golden Girls that you did not know!
Television executive Brandon Tartikoff hatched the idea of The Golden Girls while visiting his elderly aunt. His aunt’s neighbor was also her best pal, and Tartikoff was amused at how the two would often bicker with each other but still remained best friends.
Estelle Getty was the least experienced actress of the group, so she would often complain that she was feeling like a fake compared to her talented co-stars Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan. Because the filming took place in front of the live audience, Getty would often find herself stiffening up.
In the series, the girls would often gather around at the kitchen table and talk about each other’s problems while having cheesecake or any other dessert. In real life though, Bea Arthur detested cheesecake. So you might imagine her agony when she had to deal with her character who loved the dessert, which was featured over 100 times in the show.
With the series’ often suggestive dialogue, it’s hard to imagine that someone as proper as a member of the royal family would appreciate the show’s dirty sense of humor. But as it turned out, the Queen Mother was actually an avid fan of the show! In 1988, the four girls were invited to perform live in front of the Queen Mum and her guests at the London Palladium.
Each of the main cast members won an Emmy trophy for their acting. Now that’s serious gold there!
Co-star Betty White revealed that Estelle Getty totally hated doing scenes that involved death and funerals. Ironically, Getty would be the first of the group to die. She succumbed to dementia with Lewy bodies on July 22, 2008, three days before her 85th birthday.
Throughout its seven-year run, The Golden Girls had a share of its famous guests such as George Clooney, Burt Reynolds, Quentin Tarantino, Sonny Bono, and Leslie Nielsen.
The success of The Golden Girls generated a couple of spin-off sitcoms, The Golden Palace (one season, 1992-1993) and Empty Nest (seven seasons, 1988-1995), both of which were created by producer Susan Harris. The success of Empty Nest, in turn, led to its own spin-off series Nurses (three seasons, 1991-1994), also created by Harris.
The Golden Palace picks up where The Golden Girls has left off, with all of the four main characters still on board. When Dorothy (Bea Arthur) gets married, Blanche (Rue McClanahan), Rose (Betty White) and Sophia (Estelle Getty) open a hotel called The Golden Palace.
Empty Nest follows the story of the four women’s neighbors (first introduced in The Golden Girls) — a middle-aged widowed pediatrician and his two grown daughters who have moved back into their family home. Empty Nest‘s own spin-off sitcom series Nurses is set at a hospital where the same pediatrician also works.
The Golden Girls‘ creator Susan Harris first considered actress Lee Grant to play as Dorothy. Grant had starred in the short-lived series Fay (also created by Harris) in 1975-1976. However, Grant was not at all excited at the prospect of playing a grandmother, so the part was later offered to Bea Arthur.
McClanahan super loved the dresses that her character Blanche wore on the show, so she had a clause included in her contract which allowed her to take them home!