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Rue McClanahan, an icon for her role as Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls, has become the third castmember from that show to pass away. She was 76. Though she had enjoyed frequent public appearances in recent years and published the memoir My First Five Husbands...And The Ones Who Got Away in 2007, McClanahan had been in failing health in recent months and suffered a stroke earlier this year while recovering from heart surgery.

McClanahan's Blanche was the flirtatious Southern belle of the four Golden Girls women, constantly pushing the sexual envelope and bringing home all kinds of eligible Miami bachelors. She was, in a word, hilarious, and did wonders for promoting the sexual agency of older women years before Samantha got all the credit for doing it on Sex and the City. McClanahan also embraced her status as a gay icon later in her career, promoting her book at Manhattan gay clubs and giving hilarious, candid interviews like this one in The Gay and Lesbian Times.

With Betty White enjoying an enormous career resurgence, The Golden Girls are better remembered now than ever, though with the sad knowledge that now only one survives. Thanks for being a friend, Rue.



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