The Golden Girls is an American sitcom television series created by Susan Harris that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes, spanning seven seasons. The show stars Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty as four older women who share friendship and a home in Miami, Florida.
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Beatrice Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, a substitute teacher. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Sicilian immigrants Sophia and Salvadore Petrillo, Dorothy became pregnant while still in high school, resulting in marriage to Stanley Zbornak (Herb Edelman) to legitimize the baby. Stan and Dorothy eventually moved to Miami but divorced after 38 years when Stan left her for a young flight attendant. The marriage produced two children; Kate, in her early 20s, and Michael, who was inconsistently aged between his mid-20s and late 30s (Michael was purportedly the cause of the shotgun wedding). In the series’ final episode, Dorothy marries Blanche’s uncle, Lucas Hollingsworth, and relocates to Atlanta. Arthur also played Dorothy’s grandmother, Sophia’s mother, in a flashback episode to when they lived in Brooklyn in the 1950s when Dorothy was a young adult (even though two episodes – “My Father, my Brother” and “The Days and Nights of Sophia Petrillo” stated that Sophia’s mother died when Dorothy was younger). In season one episode seven, Dorothy is stated to be 55.
Betty White as Rose Nylund, a Norwegian American from the small farming town of St. Olaf, Minnesota. Often slightly naive and known for her humorously peculiar stories of life growing up in her hometown, Rose was happily married to Charlie Nylund, with whom she had five children; daughters Kirsten, Bridget, Gunilla; and sons Adam and Charlie, Jr. Upon Charlie’s death, she moved to Miami. She eventually finds work at a grief counseling center, but later switches careers and becomes assistant to consumer reporter Enrique Mas at a local TV station. In later seasons, Rose became romantically involved with college professor Miles Webber. During season six, Webber was placed into the Witness Protection Program but returned later in the season. Their relationship continued throughout the series and shortly into the sequel series, The Golden Palace.
Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, a Southern belle employed at an art museum. Born into a wealthy family, Blanche grew up as the apple of her father’s eye on a plantation outside of Atlanta, Georgia, prior to her relocation to Miami, where she lived with her husband, George, until his death. Their marriage produced six children; daughters Janet and Rebecca; and sons Doug, Biff, Skippy, and Matthew. A widow, Blanche was portrayed as man-hungry and clearly had the most male admirers and stories detailing various sexual encounters over the course of the series.
Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy’s mother. Born in Sicily, Sophia moved to New York after fleeing an arranged marriage to Guido Spirelli. She married Salvadore “Sal” Petrillo, with whom she had three children: Dorothy, Gloria, and Phil, a cross-dresser who later dies of a heart attack (episode “Ebbtide’s Revenge”). Initially a resident of the Shady Pines retirement home after having a stroke prior to the start of the series, she moved in with Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy following a fire at the institution. During the series’ run, Sophia married Max Weinstock, but they soon separated. Throughout the series, she held a few part-time jobs, mostly involving food, including as a fast-food worker and an entrepreneur of spaghetti sauce and homemade sandwiches.
Interesting Facts About The Golden Girls:
Rue McClanahan had a clause in her contract that allowed her to keep every costume that she wore on the show.
Estelle Getty suffered from serious stage fright and was a complete bundle of nerves throughout filming.
The set for the kitchen was actually used before in another 80s TV show called “It Takes Two”.