The girls when they weren’t ‘Golden’



'Golden Girls' in other roles

“The Golden Girls”

By just about any measure, “The Golden Girls” was among the most successful sitcoms of its time.

Its story of four older women sharing friendship and a home in Miami garnered strong viewership over its 1985-92 run on NBC, 11 Emmy Awards (include two for outstanding comedy series) and made late-in-life stars of its four leads — Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White. And nearly 30 years after it left NBC’s prime-time lineup, it’s still gaining fans, making it a classic example of a sitcom that has aged well.

It also wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics, be it HIV/AIDS, elder care, homelessness, poverty, gay marriage or assisted suicide. And its smart writing and crisp acting by the “Girls” and the supporting cast made it must-see television and a ratings juggernaut in its Saturday time slot for six of its seven seasons.

Viewers can relive the adventures of “The Golden Girls” weekends on TV Land and CMT and streaming on Hulu.


Other Retro Rewinds:

“Maude” (Weeknights on Antenna; streaming on IMDb TV): After playing the title character on “All in the Family,” Tony-winning stage actress Bea Arthur got her own starring vehicle in this Norman Lear-created spinoff playing a suburban New York housewife whose strong opinions and domineering personality often got her into trouble. The role earned Arthur her first Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy. McClanahan played a supporting role in the 1972-78 sitcom as Maude’s scatter-brained neighbor Vivian.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (Weekdays on Decades; streaming on Hulu): As Sue Ann Nivens, the “Happy Homemaker” on Minneapolis’ WJM-TV in this landmark 197-77 CBS comedy, Betty White brought to life a sexually voracious, backbiting woman who was in stark contrast to the wholesome persona she projected on her show. And in a cast with accomplished actors Moore, Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod and Cloris Leachman, she managed to stand out, winning her first two Emmys.

“Life With Elizabeth” (Streaming on Amazon): White’s first starring TV vehicle was this low-budget 1953-55 syndicated sitcom that cast her as a housewife who would get into a disagreement with her husband (Del Moore) in each episode that would end with the husband leaving the room and the announcer intoning, “Elizabeth, aren’t you ashamed?” She’d slowly nod her head yes and then vigorously shake her head no.

“Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” (Streaming on Tubi): The “mom” in director Roger Spottiswoode’s 1992 buddy comedy is Getty, who plays a seemingly frail but overbearing woman who comes to visit her cop son (Sylvester Stallone) and slowly begins to meddle in his life — and job.

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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