NBC’s The Golden Girls was a huge hit while it was on the air from 1985 through 1992. But since it went off the air, it’s become a kind of cult hit among the gay community and young hipsters. Hell, even Deadpool referenced the show. Recently, some of the writers and producers of the show took a look back at it, and what it was like to bear witness to the genius of its four stars. Writer Mort Nathan had an interesting story from working with one star, Bea Arthur, and watching her respond to a critic of the series.
TV Guide had done a piece on the show: “The Golden Girls—Is it still as good as it was the first year?” And they asked random people what they thought of the show, and this one housewife said she didn’t think the show was as good and that Bea Arthur’s character wasn’t as interesting. They mentioned her by name—Mrs. Betty Johnson, Sioux Falls, Iowa. So Bea reads this at lunch and then gets on the phone and asks information for this Betty Johnson’s number. And she calls her. And she picks up, this TV Guide woman, and Bea says, “This is Bea Arthur, and I want to talk to you about what you said in TV Guide.” The woman was horrified. She said she was misquoted. “I didn’t mean it. Is it really you? I love the show. I take it back.” And Bea goes, “That’s what I thought. OK, that’s better.”
Mort Nathan relayed this memory to Frontiers Media when they talked to writers and producers of The Golden Girls recently. And, well, doesn’t that just sound exactly like something Bea Arthur would do, based on the character she played on the show, at least? It does, after all, this is the same woman who once had a topless picture sold for almost $2 million (NSFW picture on Page 2).
The Golden Girls centered on a group of four older women who share a home in Miami, Florida. Bea Arthur (Dorothy), Betty White (Rose), Rue McClanahan (Blanche) and Estelle Getty (Sophia) played the women and each filled a specific role in their lives together. Rose was the sweet, naïve one; Blanche was the resident sultry Southern vixen; Sophia, as Dorothy’s mother, was the oldest and most likely to pull no punches with her opinions; and Dorothy was down to Earth, but well on her way to turning into her mom when expressing her ideals. So, yeah, according to Mort Nathan’s time with Bea Arthur while she confronted a critic, she was absolutely the right woman to play Dorothy Zbornak.
Can you imagine talking smack about a TV show and one of the actors back in the 1980s and then getting challenged by that actor in a phone call? Now, it would be so easy for a Twitter war to erupt over something like that, but, back then, you had to actually do some leg work to track people down and give them the what-for when they rail on you and your project. And, that was exactly what Bea Arthur did.
To check out the aforementioned NSFW topless picture, click over to Page 2...