Before ‘The Golden Girls’ Hit TV Screens NBC Executives Argued About Casting Decisions

by Jeremy Spirogis
Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo

Bea Arthur had an illustrious profession earlier than she graced TV screens as Dorothy Zbornak within the 1980s and 1990s. The famed The Golden Girls actress had appeared in a number of tv exhibits and was well-known in Hollywood, however that didn’t imply she was a shoo-in for the half. In truth, NBC executives hated the thought of Arthur taking up the function of Dorothy and requested the manufacturing group to think about different actors, even after they’d settled on Arthur. A second fast casting change altered the present’s eventual stars, too.

NBC executives feared that Bea Arthur wasn’t likable sufficient for the collection

The group behind The Golden Girls was set on together with Arthur within the present. She had already been solid as Dorothy when NBC executives had a sit down with the manufacturing group and requested them to think about different choices. They feared Arthur wasn’t likable sufficient to be a serious solid member on the collection, regardless that she had headlined earlier TV tasks. Her earlier roles had been really the explanation why executives had been apprehensive.

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In one among her earlier roles, Arthur performed Maude Findlay on the present, Maude. She by no means rated notably nicely with audiences, however, in response to Fox News, the character’s determination to have an abortion turned audiences utterly towards Maude and Arthur, herself. Executives had been apparently involved the distaste individuals had for Maude would comply with Arthur onto the set of The Golden Girls. While NBC tried to courtroom different actors, together with Elaine Stritch, the group lastly put their foot down and insisted that Arthur be given the function. She portrayed Dorothy for the whole thing of the present’s seven-season run.

Rue McClanahan virtually portrayed Rose Nyland

Rue McClanahan was well-known for her portrayal of the sultry Blanche Devereaux, however she solely took on the function after a last-minute casting change. Initially, McClanahan was able to tackle the a part of Rose Nylund. She had auditioned for Rose when the group behind the collection tapped Betty White for the a part of Blanche. White had performed comparable roles earlier than and felt like an ideal match. Her previous roles, identical to Arthur’s previous roles, are what turned the manufacturing group off, although.

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo
The solid of ‘The Golden Girls’ | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Everyone was reportedly apprehensive that viewers would confuse the character of Blanche with White’s earlier portrayal of Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. To assist shake White out of the sex-obsessed stereotype of her previous, they swapped her and McClanahan. In quick, the function that appeared to return so naturally to White was really the precise reverse of the kind of elements she was used to enjoying.

Bea Arthur got here to hate the best way writers handled her character

Even if the battle was gained, Arthur finally got here to hate The Golden Girls and the best way the writers handled her character. The collection was recognized for its biting and sarcastic dialogue, however Arthur took explicit challenge with the best way her character was bashed within the present. Most of the jokes about Dorothy targeted on how she was too tall, too ugly, and completely unloveable due to it. From season 1, she was handled as a little bit of a misfit, maybe due to her measurement. Arthur, at a putting peak of 5’10, was virtually a foot taller than Estelle Getty, who performed her mom, Sophia Petrillo. McClanahan stood at 5’3, whereas White is 5’4.

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James Colucci, the creator of Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai, wrote that the jokes finally bought to Arthur due to how targeted they had been on her seems. While the scripts made enjoyable of every character, neither White’s character nor McClanahan’s character was attacked for his or her seems.

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