This week marks the 30th anniversary of the cult classic TV show The Golden Girls. The show explored the lives of four elderly women living together in Miami, Florida and won several Emmys for its outstanding comedy chops. It was also frequently name-checked on spiritual successor show The OC. As part of the celebration of this comedy gem, we’ve decided to explore what happened to the stars of The Golden Girls and find out where each of them ended up.
Dorothy Zbornak (Beatrice Arthur)
Better known for her role as Maude in Maude, Bea Arthur was a renowned star of stage and screen and the true linchpin of The Golden Girls. As the tallest of the cast, she established her dominance early on. By the seventh season she had basically become, in her own words, “Not dark but glorious and terrible as the Sun!”
So what became of her?
Sadly, death. Officially it was ruled death by cancer, but as we’ll see that is highly in doubt. Like two of her co-stars, Bea Arthur’s life became forfeit in a contest of mortal implication against Betty White.
Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan)
Named for the least-best way of cooking vegetables, Blanche was actually an important part of The Golden Girls. Her high-powered libido provided the writers with an endless stream of easy plotlines and snappy jokes. While obviously much shorter than Bea Arthur, she did not let that dim her feisty spirit. Of all of the Golden Girls, she was the one who truly embodied the notion of goldenness.
She was ruled dead of a stroke at the age of 76. Investigators refused to comment on Betty White’s location at the time of death.
Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty)
Undoubtedly the funniest, snarkiest, and (sadly) shortest cast member. Her contributions to the show was a panache for snappy quips and an iron will. Behind her thick glasses you could see her eyes were full of the spark of life and wit. It would have been an easy feat for Bea Arthur to pick her up like a doll, but Estelle Getty never once let it happen. She stood her ground and earned a dedicated following that has, in the days since her passing, become the third-largest cult in the United States. Every July the Sophiaite Society meets at her grave and leaves behind a veritable mountain of trinkets and supplications for her divine intervention.
Unfortunately, not even the Sophiaites could prevent the passing of Estelle Getty. The official cause of death is Lewy Body Dementia but, as with her co-stars, her Will made clear that she feared a confrontation with legendary swordmaster Betty White would someday bring about her end.
Rose Nylund (Betty White)
Betty White is the Highlander. On The Golden Girls she played the naive Norwegian stereotype Rose. Nothing could be further from her true nature. Rather than a friendly, chipper, somewhat-dim bulb Betty White has long been known to be a ruthless stalker of her fellow immortals. Driven by the forces of the Game, Betty must face down her rivals with sword in hand, claiming their life essence for herself with every fatal victory. For awhile many believed that the camaraderie of The Golden Girls would lead to her sparing the three other immortals with which she shared the screen. Those who thought that were fools. Betty White shares nothing. Betty White cares for nothing. For Betty White… there can be only one.