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    35 Facts That Every "Golden Girls" Fanatic Should Know

    It's time to learn somethings you might not know about your favorite Miami ladies.

    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.


    Both were starring on NBC shows at the time (Doris was then-starring in Remington Steele, while Selma was on Night Court) and were asked to do a skit where they mishear the name of Miami Vice as Miami Nice, with them thinking that the show was about a bunch of old retired people.

    Shortly before her death, Doris even tweeted about it:

    Selma Diamond & I appeared in a comedy sketch on NBC called "Miami Nice." It inspired the idea for The Golden Girls.

    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!)


    3. The house used on the show isn't in Miami, it's actually in the LA neighborhood of Brentwood.

    NBC/ Disney/ Hulu

    4. The kitchen that appeared on the show was actually a reused set from a short-lived sitcom called, It Takes Two.


    The show, which ran one season (1983-84), was also created by GG creator, Susan Harris.

    5. Susan Harris created the role of Dorothy Zbornak as a "Bea Arthur type," but the head of NBC at the time did not want to cast Bea in the role.

    NBC/ Disney

    Also, the last name Zbornak came from Kent Zbornak, a stage manager Susan had worked with on another show.

    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.

    Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images

    In 2014 she talked about losing the role to Pride Source, saying, "My feelings were very hurt by that, but I’m awful glad I didn’t do it."

    7. Betty White was actually up for the role of Blanche Devereaux, while Rue McClanahan was up for the role of Rose Nylund.

    NBC / Getty Images

    While Betty was thrilled to play Blanche, the pilot's director, Jay Sandrich, said she should play Rose instead, in order to avoid playing a character that would be too similar to Sue Ann Nivens, the man-hungry character she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    8. Rue and Betty had actually both co-starred together before, on Mama's Family.

    NBC / Getty Images

    9. While Bea Arthur and Rue had both previously co-starred together on Maude.

    CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

    It was actually Rue who convinced Bea to go after the role of Dorothy, telling her "Why are you going to turn down the best script that’s ever going to come across your desk as long as you live?"

    10. When Estelle Getty got the script she thought they were offering her the role of Dorothy.

    NBC/ Disney

    Her manager had to tell her that it was actually for the role of 80-year-old Sophia — the character was actually 18 years older than Estelle was at the time.

    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.

    ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images

    12. It took the makeup artist 45 minutes to transform Estelle (using aging makeup and a wig) into Sophia Petrillo.

    NBC / Getty Images

    Estelle was actually a year younger than her on-screen daughter Bea. She was also younger than Betty.

    13. Rue had a clause in her contract that allowed her to keep all of Blanche's clothes.

    NBC/ Disney

    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.

    NBC / Getty Images

    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.

    NBC / Getty Images

    16. The fourth character on the show was meant to be Coco, the gay cook who worked for the ladies. While the character did well with test audiences, he was removed from the show in favor of Sophia (who tested better).


    Coco only appeared in the pilot and his character was never mentioned again on the show.

    17. The show premiered at No. 1, and was watched by 21.5 million households.

    NBC/ Disney

    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.

    View this video on YouTube

    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."

    Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images, Hulton Archive / Stringer

    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.

    NBC/ Disney

    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.

    NBC/ Disney / julioiglesias1/

    Julio agreed to come on the show after meeting and befriending the cast at the Royal Variety Performance for the Queen and Queen Mother.

    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.

    Getty Images

    Betty was scared to call him, but, to her surprise, Bob said, "Sure, I'd love to."

    23. The episode where Dorothy is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome is based on Susan Harris' life.

    NBC/ Disney

    Susan suffered from it, and like Dorothy, was ignored and told to dye her hair.

    24. In real life Bea Arthur hated cheesecake.

    NBC/ Disney

    25. George Clooney's agent asked for him to guest star on the show so that he could maintain his health insurance.

    NBC / Getty Images

    26. Quentin Tarantino appeared as one of 12 Elvis impersonators in the episode, "Sophia's Wedding: Part 1."

    NBC/ Disney/

    In 1994, in an interview with Playboy he said of the gig, "Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job."

    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."

    NBC /

    According to head writer Mort Nathan, TV Guide mentioned the woman's full name and where she lived. After Bea read the review she called information and got the woman's number, called her, and said, "This is Bea Arthur, and I want to talk to you about what you said in TV Guide." The woman then told Bea she was misquoted.

    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.

    NBC/ Disney/

    30. Both Betty and Rue have said they never really had much of a friendship with Bea.

    NBC / Getty Images

    Even though Betty said that Bea was never fond of her, the two would sometimes drive to work together.

    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.

    NBC/ Hulu/

    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.

    Nbc / Getty Images

    Although, Rue, Estelle, and Betty did go star on the spin-off, The Golden Palace — which would only last one season.

    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:

    View this video on YouTube

    34. Each of the shows four stars won an Emmy for their roles.

    Abc Photo Archives / Getty Images

    Rue McClanahan won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987, Estelle Getty won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1988, Bea Arthur won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1988, and Betty White (who was the first to win) won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1986.

    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.

    NBC / Getty Images

    Funny enough, they explained Sophia being show 'cause she had moved back into nearby Shady Pines!

    Facts 21 and 22 were sourced from Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai by Jim Colucci.

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