Anyone who was around in the 80’s knew the Golden Girls, and like many Canadians around my age I probably saw every episode. The show’s syndicated run in Canada was one of the few things on after school that was for a bit more adult of an audience (these being the ancient days when basic cable was under 20 channels.)
Looking back I have a lot of fond memories of the show and of the four actresses in the lead roles. Much comedy was wrung from naïve Rose, man-crazy Blanche and irascible Sophia, but Bea Arthur’s Dorothy was the character that held the show together. Without Dorothy the show could easily have degenerated into one dimensional sillyness. Arthur was the consummate straight-woman and a gifted comedienne who had that all too rare ability to make the switch to pathos without it feeling totally contrived. (For a counter example see: Allen, Tim)
It wasn’t until later in life that I saw any of her earlier series Maude on classic tv channels, but it was instantly clear that she brought the same skills to that role as well. I’m still amazed that they were able to have that frank of a discussion on abortion on network TV in that era. She was definitely a trailblazer for strong female characters on television (something we’re still not exactly swimming in.)
The post Golden Girls/Palace careers of the 4 women are rather varied…
Rue McClanahan seems to have taken minor parts in every crappy tv series and direct to video feature she could get. (Though I must say I enjoyed her as the blind biology teacher in Starship Troopers)
Estelle Getty died several years ago after developing a degenerative mental illness, but before that she did the terrible but oddly funny Stallone movie “Stop or my Mom will Shoot” and had a few other minor roles including a voice part in Duckman.
Betty White continues to be a perennial scene stealer. The foul mouthed granny egging on the giant gator in Lake Placid is a favorite as was her turn on Boston Legal and a recent guest star appearance on My Name is Earl as the witch lady. Her upcoming role in the new Sandra Bullock movie looks to be the only watchable thing in that inevitable crapfest. Her recent appearances on the new Pyramid show demonstrate that she’s as sharp as ever (ditto her great roast of Shatner).
Bea’s post GG career was a little more laid back, sticking to a few roles and some stage work. The highlight for me of course is her absolutely inspired turn as the fem-bot impersonating a fem-puter on the Futurama episode: Amazon Women in the Mood. Her voice acting is fantastic and based on the commentary the Futurama crew obviously loved her. The most recent thing I remember her from is a perfect example of her deadpan humour, sadly the AVclub beat me to the punch on this one but it really is perfect: