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It’s been over 30 years since the premier of the first episode of The Golden Girls. It aired from September 1985 to May 1922.

The show followed four older women played by Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, and Bea Arthur. Their performances earned them all Emmy Awards.

During the show’s seven year run, it was easily one of the most popular shows on American television. It drew in over 25 million viewers each week.

Recycled Set

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You’ve probably seen the set of the kitchen from The Golden Girls before. It was the same set used for It Takes Two. They hardly changed the set except for the wallpaper and the Chicago setting outside of the kitchen window. They changed the setting to Miami, Florida.

Free Clothing

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The flamboyant Blanche had an array of colorful and unique clothes, which she got to keep! In her contract, there was a clause that stated she could keep any costume from filming that she wanted.

It Was Controversial

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The Golden Girls weren’t afraid to touch on some controversial subjects. They spoke about the sex lives of older women, feminism, and gay rights. It’s considered a favorite for many civil rights activists.

Switching Roles

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Only true fans know that Betty White and Rue McClanahan were originally casted as each other’s roles. Rue would have played Rose while Betty would have played Blanche. It would have been an entirely different show if the two had not agreed to switch characters.

Unpopular

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It’s called acting for a reason. While they played best friends on the show, Betty and Bea did not get along offset. “Bea had a reserve. She was not that fond of me. She found me a pain in the neck sometimes. It was my positive attitude – and that made Bea made sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious!” Betty White told Closer.

Civil Rights Activist

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Bea Arthur wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion and stand up for what she believed in. She was a vocal advocate for PETA, LGBTQ rights, and the treatment of Jews in in U.S.

Animal Lover

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Betty White loves animals. She even wrote a book, Betty & Friends: My Life At the Zoo where she collected many pictures and wrote stores about animals and campaigning for the fair treatment of animals.

Age Difference

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While Estelle Getty, who played Bea Arthur’s mother, looked much older than the rest of the cast, she was in fact younger than Bea! Though it was only a year difference, the make up department had to make her look years older.

AIDS

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Estelle encouraged the awareness and cure for AIDS when her nephew was diagnosed with it. He died at the age of 29 after Estelle had paid for him to get the best care. She was a spokesperson for finding a cure since his death in 1992.

First Lady of Game Shows

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Before you knew her as Rose, Betty White made frequent appearances on game shows I the 1960s. She loved puzzles, word games, and playing games in general. She was dubbed the “First Lady of Game Shows.”

Plastic Surgery

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Between seasons, Estelle Getty decided to get a facelift. This resulted in makeup artists working even harder to make her look older than she was.

Emmy Awards

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The show was so good and so popular that it was nominated for 60 Emmy awards throughout its run! Each actress won an Emmy at one point for their performance on the show.

Queen Elizabeth II

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The Queen of England enjoyed watching the show too. She invited the cast of the show to perform at the Royal Variety Show in 1988 for the Queen. “The Queen was lovely. We were told not to address her until we were addressed. She was up in a box and she came down on stage after with Princess Anne. She said, ‘Lovely, pretty girls.’ I said, ‘And not bad bodies,” Betty White recalled.

No Cheesecake for Bea

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The characters consumed over a hundred cheesecakes during the show’s run. However, Bea Arthur hated cheesecake. She hated to eat it during filming, but would if it was necessary.

Bea Didn’t Want the Role

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While Dorothy is probably Bea Arthur’s most famous role, she originally did not want to take it because she felt it was too similar to her role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. When Betty and Rue switched roles, she changed her mind and decided to do the show.

Exclusive Club

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The cast of the show is part of a very exclusive club. Only two other shows had casts where every main member won an Emmy for their performance in the show. These shows were All in the Family and Will and Grace.

Inspired from Real Life

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Brian Tartikoff was inspired to create the show after visiting his elderly aunt and watching her bicker with her friend all afternoon in her kitchen.

Blanche’s Two Names

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Uh-oh! The writers made a mistake with Blanche’s name. They gave her two different full names in different episodes. First, she was Blanche Elizabeth Deveraux. Later, she was Blanche Marie Hollingsworth.

Worldwide Popularity

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The Golden Girls was popular around the world! Countries such as Greece, Russia, and the UK even remade their own version of the show.

Still Kicking

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Betty White is the only member from the cast who is still alive. At 95, she is still acting. Estelle Getty passed away in 2008, Bea Arthur passed away in 2009, and Rue McClenahan passed away in 2010.

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