All The Golden Girls fans can probably sing its theme song without a problem.
That first line, “Thank you for being a friend, travel down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidante,” is the signal that we’re about to spend approximately 22 minutes with our favorite four ladies from Miami.
In real life, however, these girls weren’t the closest of friends.
The cast got along well enough
In a 1997 conversation with the Archive of American Television, Betty White opened up about her cast mates for those seven golden seasons: Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. For her, their differences was what explained their extraordinary success on the show.
“It’s like four points on a compass,” White said. “We were each so different from the other and I think that’s why we fit together so well.
“And for the first five years, it was such a happy….we’d sit around and instead of going to our dressing rooms, we’d sit around and yak and talk about very intimate things.”
Off the set they each had their own circle of friends
While the four castmates were friendly enough, they simply didn’t move in the same circles, according to Golden Girl Rue McClanahan in her book, My First Five Husbands..And the Ones Who Got Away.
“We gals saw one another constantly at all the celebrity events we had to attend,” she wrote, “but we moved in very different social circles. Betty’s old friends were Hollywood names. Bea had her actor friends from New York. Estelle also had a large coterie of young gay guys, many from Torch Song Trilogy.
“My three Golden Girls castmates didn’t appear regularly at my parties, nor I at theirs. We all went to Estelle’s big birthday parties every summer, six months after Betty’s birthday. But never together.”
Their personalities sometimes clashed
McClanahan explained that in real life, their unique personalities at times were too different to harmonize, as she said in her 2006 conversation with the Archive of American Television. She touched specifically on her relationship with Bea Arthur.
“Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on,” McClanahan admitted. “Bea is a very, very eccentric woman. For instance, she wouldn’t go to lunch unless Betty would go with her. She wouldn’t go to dinner between shows in our bathrobes unless Betty would walk across the tarmac with her to the cafeteria. She was very dependent on having everything be as it always had been.”
The Blanche Devereaux actor added, “I was anything but that. I was ‘Let’s create the moment.’”