Audiences were left in stitches when a show about four feisty older women tackling love, sex and friendship in Miami premiered in 1985, but things weren’t always smooth sailing on the set of “The Golden Girls.”
The sitcom, which racked up 68 Emmy nominations and 11 wins throughout its run, aired until 1992. Actress Betty White, who starred as Rose Nylund, is the only living Golden Girl left at age 95.
While the series focused on the lasting bond created by Rose Nylund (White), Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) and her mother Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), things may have been quite the opposite when cameras stopped rolling.
“My mom wasn’t really close to anybody,” Arthur’s son Matthew Saks told Closer Weekly Wednesday. “I’m not saying she was a loner, but she just liked to go home and read the paper.”
McClanahan previously hinted Arthur may not have gotten along with White due to their differences in how they handled acting.
“Bea came from a New York stage point of view,” McClanahan said back in 2009. “She always had what we call ‘the fourth wall.’ And Betty came from a television point of view. She would flirt with the audience, and pull up her skirt and say, ‘Hi sailor.’ But Bea never acknowledged the audience.”
Jim Colucci, who wrote “Golden Girls Forever,” claimed Arthur may have been annoyed with White, who was the first cast member to win an Emmy.
“There was joking when Betty came in after that: ‘Oh boy, it’s going to be rough around here,’” he told Closer Weekly.
However, that wasn’t the only challenge the cast faced during the show’s run.
Getty, who came from a prominent theatre background, unexpectedly struggled to memorize her scripts for the weekly series. She later died of Lewy Body dementia in 2008.
“People wonder if her dementia was beginning, even back then,” said Colucci. “Estelle really had a panic about knowing her lines. She’d write them on props, and asked to read from cue cards in the later years.”
“It was frustrating,” added Saks. “It was hard on everybody.”
Despite its growing popularity, “The Golden Girls” came to an end after Arthur announced she was ready to move on. However, the stars would always acknowledge the enormous impact the show had on audiences over the years.
“It gave the aging population hope,” McClanahan’s son Mark Bish told Closer Weekly. “They were such professionals and the writing was so good that they were able to bring real quality to a sitcom. I don’t know if you could ever duplicate that particular chemistry.”