1. The idea for a show revolving around older women came about after network executives watched Doris Roberts and Selma Diamond do a skit at the NBC upfronts.
Shortly before her death, Doris even tweeted about it:
2. The producers originally wanted to use Bette Midler’s song, "Friends," as the theme song. But, it was too expensive so they settled on "Thank You For Being A Friend." (Thankfully!)
4. The kitchen that appeared on the show was actually a reused set from a short-lived sitcom called, It Takes Two.
6. Elaine Stritch was one of the original choices to play Dorothy, but she said she blew the audition because, not only did one of the writers not like her, but she ad-libbed and added the word "fuck" during her audition.
8. Rue and Betty had actually both co-starred together before, on Mama's Family.
9. While Bea Arthur and Rue had both previously co-starred together on Maude.
11. Estelle found Sophia's iconic straw purse (which was used for the entire run of the show) while shopping for props to use as part of her audition for the role.
12. It took the makeup artist 45 minutes to transform Estelle (using aging makeup and a wig) into Sophia Petrillo.
14. Bea did not have pierced ears, so she wore clip-ons. Unfortunately they would make her ears go numb from wearing them for so long.
15. Sophia was never supposed to be part of the regular cast, but Estelle stole every scene she was in in the pilot. She was then promoted to series regular.
18. Both Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother were fans of the show. In 1988, they invited the cast to perform a seven-minute skit live, as part of the Royal Variety Performance at the prestigious London Palladium.
19. Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury were also both reportedly fans of the show. According to UK comedian, Cleo Rocos, the two once spent an afternoon drinking champagne while watching reruns of the show with the volume down and improvising lines with "a much naughtier storyline."
20. Estelle suffered from extreme stage fright (she was a theater actress and wasn't used to TV) and often hid her lines in the objects in front of her.
21. In the episode "Valentine's Day," Julio Iglesias was supposed to serenade Sophia. But he said he didn't want to sing (possibly because of nerves), so Estelle improvised and instead, in the scene, she took him by the arm and serenaded him.
22. Bob Hope appeared as a guest star after Susan Harris asked Betty (who was close friends with him) to call him and ask him to be on the show.
23. The episode where Dorothy is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome is based on Susan Harris' life.
25. George Clooney's agent asked for him to guest star on the show so that he could maintain his health insurance.
26. Quentin Tarantino appeared as one of 12 Elvis impersonators in the episode, "Sophia's Wedding: Part 1."
27. Bea once personally called a housewife who had told TV Guide that the show wasn't as good as it had been during its first season and that the character of Dorothy wasn't "interesting."
28. Estelle would not allow the writers to write any jokes for Sophia that included gay-bashing or domestic violence.
29. In fact, Estelle loved the gay community and was very close to the gay writers on the show, and would often set them up on blind dates.
31. Before writing the episode "72 Hours" (the episode where Rose learns she might have been exposed to HIV during a transfusion), the writers talked with HIV experts at UCLA, so that they could learn what information they wanted to the public to know.
32. The series ultimately ended after seven seasons because Bea did not want to do the show anymore and wanted the show to go out on top.
33. There have been various foreign adaption of the show produced; including in Chile, Russia, Spain, Greece, The UK, and The Netherlands. The latter even includes the same theme song, but in Dutch:
34. Each of the shows four stars won an Emmy for their roles.
35. After The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace, was cancelled, Estelle Getty went on to play Sophia on Empty Nest (which was another spin-off) from 1993-95.
Facts 21 and 22 were sourced from Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai by Jim Colucci.