Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Golden Girls

Another Golden Girl Goes Home

While I’m on the theme of old women, I was saddened by the passing of Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak of the Golden Girls) April 25 at the age of 86 from cancer. I enjoyed her in both of her roles as Maude and Dorothy of the Golden Girls.

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American comedian, actress, and singer. In a career spanning seven decades, Arthur achieved success as the title character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcom Maude, and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls; she won Emmys for both roles.

The Golden Girls

With The Golden Girls NBC brought to television one of the first representations of senior women coming together to create a circle of friends that functioned as a family. The program centered around four main characters: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), a divorced school teacher; Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Dorothy's elderly, widowed mother; Blanche DeVereaux (Rue McClanahan), a widow and owner of the Miami home in which all of the women lived, and Rose Nylund (Betty White), a widow and an active volunteer in the community. Aside from the mother-daughter relationship between Dorothy and Sophia, no other family relations existed between the women, yet they shared their daily lives, dreams, fears, and dilemmas as a unit. The group life of the characters enabled expression of diverse opinions and approaches to problems the women faced as individuals.

Thank You For Being A Friend

I feel this is a great song for all old friends. Anyone who regularly watched could not help but feel these lovely ladies were their friends. The opening line of the popular song "Thank You for Being a Friend" not only became the weekly thematic prelude to the situation comedy, The Golden Girls, it also came to represent the sensibility which sprang from the heart of this delightful program.

Thank You For Being A Friend Lyrics

Thank you for being a friend

Traveled down the road and back again

Your heart is true; you're a pal and a confidant

I'm not ashamed to say

I hope it always will stay this way

My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow


And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew

You would see, the biggest gift would be from me

And the card attached would say, 
Thank you for being a friend


If it's a car you lack

I'd surely buy you a Cadillac

Whatever you need, anytime of the day or night


I'm not ashamed to say

I hope it always will stay this way

My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow


And when we both get older, with walking canes and hair of gray

Have no fear, even though it's hard to hear

I will stand real close and say, 
Thank you for being a friend

And when we die and float away

Into the night, the Milky Way

You'll hear me call, as we ascend 

I'll see you there, then once again

I want to thank you for being a friend.

Which Golden Girl Do You Most Identify With?
If you are 50 plus, I wondered which of the Golden Girl you most identified with. For me it was definitely Dorothy.  But I have friends that certainly remind me of Blanche, Rose, and Sophia.

Dorothy Zbornak............................. Bea Arthur

Dorothy was the strong, sarcastic, sometimes intimidating, and arguably most grounded of the four women in the house. She was a "bookworm", and an over-achiever in high school. Yet, she suffered from low self-esteem because one previous boyfriend was emotionally abusive, while another one supposedly stood her up on the night of her prom. Dejected, she later accepted a date with Stanley Zbornak (Herb Edelman) because she "felt she couldn't do any better". She became pregnant while still in high school, resulting in a shotgun wedding to Stan. She divorced after 38 years due to Stan's infidelity. Like the other women living in the house, the series saw Dorothy progress through her fair share of romances, with her love life often coming into criticism by her mother.

Bea Arthur Quotes

__”After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porno.”

__”I'm not playing a role. I'm being myself, whatever the hell that is.”

Blanche Devereaux................Rue McClanahan

Blanche is portrayed as a promiscuous woman, with her initials spelling out the word "BED." She spends a great deal of her time with members of the opposite sex, and this is a source of both condemnation from and amusement to her roommates. Blanche's seemingly liberated human sexual behavior was a contrast to the sexual climate of the 1980s, when AIDS was beginning to seep into a nation's consciousness. Blanche acts as co-roommate and landlord to Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo. Though she is annoyed at times by Rose's constant storytelling, she sees her as both her best friend and a surrogate sister. To be sure, Blanche has her own collection of strange stories, which she also shares from time to time.

Her relationship with Dorothy is mixed with envy and condemnation on both parts: Dorothy envies and condemns Blanche's sexual comfortability, while Blanche envies Dorothy's intelligence and condemns her fashion sense, among other things. And yet, both she and Dorothy at times isolate themselves from Rose, ganging up on her when the latter says anything particularly foolish. Their relationship is also symbiotic: in one of the last episodes in the series, Dorothy admits that Blanche has helped her be comfortable with her own sexuality, while Dorothy herself has always served as Blanche's other voice of reason.

Blanche's relationship with Sophia is also interesting: Blanche sees her both as a mother figure and as a mean old lady, and Sophia sees her as one of her daughters and, very vocally, a streetwalker.

Rue McClanahan Quotes

___ “Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.”

__ “I've been allowed to develop my own character, which I'm still working on.”

Rose Nylund...................................Betty White

Rose was comically portrayed as naive and simple, although arguably the most kind-hearted. She was best known for her rambling, nonsensical stories about her bizarre hometown, St. Olaf, Minnesota, that her roommates endured with exasperated silence—and the occasional muttered insult. Although all four women volunteered their time, Rose was arguably the most involved in charity work. She drove a bookmobile, was a candy striper at a hospital, and helped organize a charity talent show, among other things. She listed cheese making as a hobby on her resume, as well. She was a perennial runner up for a Volunteer of the Year award, even coming in second one year to a woman who was already dead. Rose was an avid animal lover.

Betty White Quote

___“Keep the other person's well being in mind when you feel an attack of soul-purging truth coming on”

Sophia Petrillo........................Estelle Getty

Sophia is best known for her wisecracks, put-downs and brazen remarks, often commenting on Dorothy's lack of love life, Blanche's promiscuity, and Rose's stupidity. However, despite her sharp criticism of her daughter and roommates, she loves and cares for them deeply; she even sees Rose and Blanche as surrogate daughters. The other women usually seek Sophia out for advice, which Sophia is all too willing to share, usually beginning with her catchphrase, "Picture it…" Like Rose's tall tales, Sophia's parables often end with a moral, from which advice can be gleaned. Sophia had many suitors, many causes, and a good heart despite her shape tongue. (Beatrice Arthur, who played her daughter Dorothy Zbornak on the show, was in real life a year older than Getty. Estelle Getty died last year of severe dementia).

Estelle Getty Quotes

___ “Age does not bring you wisdom, age brings you wrinkles.”

___ “I think they look upon me as an old child, because I'm so little.”

Golden Girl Quotes

Blanche: I just don't know what to do.

Rose: Well I'm here if you want to pick my brain.

Dorothy: I think we should leave it alone Rose, and let it heal.


Dorothy: Oh c'mon, Blanche. Age is just a state of mind.

Blanche: Tell that to my thighs.


Dorothy:  Rose, I know this is a long shot, but did you take much acid during the sixties?


Blanche: You know what the worst part about getting older is?

Dorothy: Your face, Rose's hands?

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