These actresses made the show what it is.
The Golden Girls has long been a favorite TV show for people who love the cult personalities of Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia. But, if the original casting choices had been followed through, the show would have been very different to how we know it. This was revealed in a 2006 interview with Rue McClanahan (who played the role of Blanche). Apparently the show’s producers initially wanted her to play the role of Rose! Just let that sink in for a second.
Who was set to play Blanche? Betty White, of course. But, McClanahan had had her eyes on the role of Blanche since she first looked at the script. When she told her agent that was the part she wanted to read for she was told, “You can either be in the series and play Rose or you can forget it” since White had already been all-but-offered the part of Blanche.
However, when McClanahan went in to read for the part of Rose, they also asked her to do a reading of Blanche’s part as well and she nailed it. White was informed of the new direction in a reading where she had to suddenly play Rose. McClanahan said White’s eyes instantly went blank “just as Rose’s stayed blank for the next 7 years.” Having watched the show it’s hard to imagine White playing the sultry, steamy love goddess of Blanche. But, since she’s a phenomenal actress she probably would have nailed the role as well as she did the role of ditzy airhead, Rose.
The role of Sophia had already been given to Estelle Getty and the final piece of the puzzle for the producers was to try and nab Bea Arthur for the role of Dorothy. They enlisted McClanahan to call her since the 2 were friends. They knew each other well from having worked on the show, Maude, together for 6 years.
Having spent so much time together, McClanahan knew her very well and in retelling the story does an incredible job at a Bea Arthur impression. It’s always your friends who know how to rib you the most!
Prior to this the creators of the show had been having a hard time finding the right actresses to play the roles of the fierce and often goofy Golden Girls with no luck up until that point. But, once McClanahan convinced Arthur to consider the series again, they magically had their perfect combination – complete with the amazing chemistry we witnessed between the ensemble cast over 7 seasons of the iconic show.
And what about her unforgettable role as Blanche? McClanahan said that people asked her all the time if she really was like the man-crazed Southern belle, to which she replied that they weren’t anything alike since McClanahan wasn’t from the South!