“The Golden Girls” Show: Not Widely Known Facts About the Iconic Show
Oh, the Golden Girls... Who could forget the 4 adorable ladies that paved the way for shows like "Sex in the City"? Well kind of. But what if we told you that we know a few behind-the-scenes juicy details that you probably don't? From off-screen drama to debilitating phobias, here are 20 golden stories that will blow your mind.
1. The show's oldest character wasn't played by the oldest cast member
Sophia Petrillo, the oldest character on the show, also known as Dorothy Zbornak's mother, actually wasn't the oldest cast member. In real life, Estelle Getty was even younger than Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy. 3 months younger, to be specific. She got the role by appearing at the audition dressed like a really old lady.
2. One of the actresses had extreme stage fright
As funny as it may seem, in addition to her extreme fear of death, actress Estelle Getty also had to deal with intense stage fright. No one would ever tell by looking at how natural she looked when hilariously portraying her character, Sophia Petrillo. She tried to face her fears some years earlier by doing some stand-up comedy.
3. The show's theme song wasn't exclusive
Although we all felt like the show's theme song was the perfect fit for the Golden Girls, the song wasn't really written for the show, as it usually happens. The song called "Thank You For Being a Friend" was released as a single in 1978 by musician Andrew Gold who at the time considered it a "throw-away".
4. Bea Arthur had to be convinced by Rue to appear on the show
We can't think of another actress that would play the role of Dorothy Zbornak as perfectly as Bea Arthur, but the actress took some time before deciding to take it. It was actually co-star Rue McClanahan that succeeded in convincing her that it was the perfect part for her and that she'd be a fool to turn it down.
5. They made up a new word: "Lanai"
Can you think of how many times you heard the word "lanai" in the show? You probably got so used to it, like all the other million viewers, that you hearing it like a perfectly normal word. Well, "lanai", used to describe an outside furnished area, was actually completely made up for the show.
6. One of the seats at the table was never used
True fans of the show probably noticed that each of the girls took their turn when seating at the kitchen table, and also that one of the seats was almost always occupied with some sort of prop to prevent the actresses from having their backs turned to the camera. Bea was always sitting in the middle because of her height.
7. Estelle Getty didn't get the role on the first audition
Let's face it: Sophia Petrillo was probably one of the most loved characters on the show. But would you believe us if we told you that it took Estelle Getty 3 auditions to land the role of Dorothy's mother? Apparently, the show's producers made her go through an extensive selection process before finally picking her. We're glad they did!
8. The Queen Mother was a huge fan of the show
The "Golden Girls" sure had a lot of fans all over the world, but one of their biggest fans was (imagine that) UK's Queen Mother herself. She loved them so much that she actually invited them to perform at the 1988 Royal Variety Performance in London. The girls were a hit and the Queen was seen laughing her heart out.
9. Bea Arthur wasn't that friendly to her co-stars
Who would have thought that behind the close friendship seen on-screen, there was actually a bitter atmosphere off-screen? Bea Arthur wasn't shy about showing her animosity towards co-star Betty White, whom she resented for having won an Emmy for her role in the show before her. Bea was also known for keeping to herself most of the time between takes.
10. Rue McClanahan's wardrobe was entirely custom-made
Could you imagine Blanche Devereaux, Rue McClanahan's character, without her glamorous and slightly over the top wardrobe? We can't either. That's why all of her clothes on the show were custom-made, to make sure she always looked her absolute fabulous self. McClanahan got to keep her famous pieces after the show ended, some of which she auctioned off.
11. Dorothy always wore clip-on earrings
If there's one fashion accessory that defined Dorothy Zbornak, Bea Arthur's character, it was her gigantic, fabulous earrings. But could you imagine having to wear those huge earrings every day for years on end? Bea couldn't either, that's why the show's costume designer opted for clip-on pieces to make it less painful to wear.
12. The girls' favorite dessert on the show was cheesecake, which Bea Arthur hated
Real fans of the show probably noticed that, whenever things got tough, sooner or later you would see the girls seating around the kitchen table having a piece of their favorite dessert: cheesecake. For most people this sounds yummy, but not for Bea Arthur who actually despised that particular dessert and always did her best not to eat any.
13. The show ended because of Bea Arthur
Most TV shows end because of low ratings, but that wasn't the case of "Golden Girls". After 7 years and 180 episodes, the beloved show ended because actress Bea Arthur made the decision of leaving. Bea felt that the material wasn't living up to the show's initial years and decided to leave before no one could stand it anymore.
14. The show almost became "The Golden Girls and the Gay Chef"
When the show first took off, the Golden Girls had a surprising extra roommate: a gay chef called Coco, played by actor Charles Levin. Coco was supposed to be the 5th character on the show but it ended up not getting past the pilot when the show got picked up by the network.
15. The girls' kitchen was recycled from "It Takes Two"
Did you find yourself wondering while watching the show: "Where did I see this kitchen before?" Well, probably not, but we wouldn't be surprised if you did. As the production team was running on a low budget, all of the girls' kitchen furniture ended up being taken from another TV show: "It Takes Two", starring Helen Hunt and Patty Duke.
16. The show's pilot writer almost retired before the show aired
Susan Harris was the woman behind the golden girls we all grew to love. If it wasn't for her, they would have never been part of our lives. Well, actually, it's more like if it wasn't for her husband Paul, who convinced her to write the pilot after she had already decided to never write for TV again.
17. The girls' house was really located in Los Angeles
We all know that the Golden Girls were living in Miami, Florida, the area where all of their stories took place. But what you probably didn't know is that the facade that appeared on the show actually belonged to a house located in a completely different time zone, more precisely: Los Angeles. You can buy it for $3 million. Interested?
18. Disney partly owned the "Golden Girls"
When we talk about Disney, it's common for people to immediately think of animated movies such as "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast" and "Alladin". But, as the parent company of Buena Vista International Television, who indeed owns the "Golden Girls", Disney is also an owner of the show's rights.
And it seems that soon enough you'll be seeing plenty of "golden" merchandise around. Disney has announced that they're planning to use the girls' image on multiple merchandise materials that go from board games to pins, magnets, and t-shirts. We all know what we're getting our grandmas this Christmas, don't we?
19. Estelle Getty suffered from Thanatophobia
In addition to stage fright, Estelle Getty also suffered from thanatophobia which consists of fear of anything related to death. So, in addition to being afraid of performing on stage, Getty also was scared of things like funerals or the mere mention of death.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for her playing an old woman in front of a live audience for so many years? We sure have to give her credit for facing her fears. The effort seems to have paid off, considering how popular her role as Sophia Petrillo was.
20. Two of the actresses changed roles at the last minute
Try visualizing this: Rue McClanahan as Rose Nylund and Betty White as Blanche Devereaux. We can imagine the face you're making right now. It just doesn't fit, does it? Thanks to the pilot's director, who decided to change the actresses' roles last minute, we got the best out of these 2 unforgettable characters.
What a trip down memory lane this was! Did you know about these funny behind-the-scenes facts? And did you have a favorite golden girl? Let us know all about it in the comments section and don't forget to share the article!
Sources: The Blast