‘The Golden Girls’: Inside the ‘Friction’ Between Betty White and Bea Arthur and How Betty ‘Irritated’ Bea on Set

by Jeremy Spirogis
Cast of

While The Golden Girls constantly delivered comedy and heartfelt moments, issues weren’t at all times peachy between the present’s co-stars. Betty White and Bea Arthur reportedly had some “friction” as a result of Arthur was generally “irritated” by White on set. Two of the present’s writers reveal the behind-the-scenes feud between the actors.

Cast of 'The Golden Girls'
Cast of ‘The Golden Girls’ | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Betty White didn’t win Bea Arthur over when she chatted up the viewers

In a 2017 interview, Arthur’s son Matthew Saks instructed Closer Weekly how his mom didn’t like the way in which White would speak to the viewers throughout their tapings.

“It would make my mom unhappy that in-between takes Betty would go and talk to the audience. It wasn’t jealousy. It was a focus thing,” he defined.

He added, “My mom unknowingly carried the attitude that it was fun to have somebody to be angry at. It was almost like Betty became her nemesis, someone she could always roll her eyes about at work.” 

Saks instructed The Hollywood Reporter how his mother “didn’t dig” the way in which that White would “chat with the audience and literally go and make friends with the audience.”

He conceded that it’s “a nice thing — a lot of them have come from all over the country and are fans,” however that Arthur discovered it distracting.

“It’s more about being focused or conserving your energy,” Saks mentioned of his mom’s course of as an actor. “It’s just not the right time to talk to fans between takes. Betty was able to do it and it didn’t seem to affect her. But it rubbed my mom the wrong way.”

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‘The Golden Girls’ writers shared the story behind the Betty White and Bea Arthur drama

To rejoice 35 years since The Golden Girls aired, Disney D23 hosted a particular interview with the producers/screenwriters of the present, Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan, who have been instrumental in bringing the tales to life.

The two had loads of behind-the-scenes particulars from the set to share and so they addressed that well-known rumor that White would speak to the viewers throughout tapings — and the way that didn’t sit properly with Arthur.

“It was the only kind of friction at all on the show and that was between Bea and Betty,” Fanaro mentioned. “Betty was a TV person — she was a really good actress, I think an underrated actress, she was amazing. But she also had done gameshows and other sitcoms.”

He continued, “She would do anything, she liked to perform. And she would perform to the audience. Bea was an animal of Broadway — that was, you came out, you stayed in character, you said your lines, you walked off, you got a drink, and you went home. But Betty would always prime it. If she dropped a line, she’d get up and she’d walk to the audience, and make them laugh.”

“And it sort of irritated Bea. Not to the point where they would fight about it, but they were two totally different people and Bea just thought it wasn’t Broadway to go and break character,” Fanaro defined. “The audience, of course, loved it because she is really funny off the cuff.”

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