Launched during the neon-lit 1980s, The Golden Girls
shed light on a side of Miami ignored by Miami Vice
. In other words, no drugs, no murder--just four women of "a certain age," spending their golden years in the sun. Like the theme, "Thank You for Being a Friend," the long-running sitcom was about friendship (not crime). As for the "girls," they were tart-tongued Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur), former farm girl Rose (Betty White), Southern belle Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and Dorothy's salty Sicilian mother Sophia (Estelle Getty). All were widows, with the exception of the divorced Dorothy. Created by Emmy-winning producer Susan Harris (Soap
), The Golden Girls
re-ignited the careers of 1970s TV veterans Arthur (All in the Family
) and White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show
). At the same time, it made stars of McClanahan (who co-starred on Maude
), by playing a comic version of A Streetcar Named Desire
's Blanche Dubois, and the scene-stealing Getty, made to look older than her actual age (she and Arthur were born the same year).
Notable guests to lend their talents to the first season include Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo ("The Operation"), Alice's Polly Holliday ("Blind Ambitions"), and WKRP in Cincinnati's Gordon Jump ("Big Daddy"). In addition, Harold Gould (Rhoda), who appears in "Rose the Prude," would return as a (different) recurring character five years later.
The Golden Girls ran for seven seasons and spawned spin-off The Golden Palace (without Arthur) and a British version called The Brighton Belles. By the end of its run in 1992, it had garnered numerous awards, including two Emmys for best comedy series. In addition, each of the four actresses received a well-deserved Emmy for her efforts. --Kathleen C. Fennessy