Bea Arthur Wanted To Quit “The Golden Girls”
A new Golden Girls tell-all reveals tons of new secrets about the hit show including Be a Arthur, who played Dorothy, wanted to quit the show on numerous occasions.
The book’s author, Jim Colucci, says: “When the writers called Rose [Betty White] dumb or Blanche [Rue McClanahan] a slut or Sophia [Estelle Getty] old, it could roll off those women’s backs because they were not like their characters.”
“Unfortunately, the things that were said about Dorothy were that she was big and ugly. And that wears on an actress after a while.”
“If you were chewing gum on the set, she would try to have you fired.” he says.
“She also never wanted to wear shoes. She had it written into her contract that she was allowed to not wear shoes as long as she agreed not to sue the producers if she hurt herself.”
“By the start of the 7th season, Bea made it very clear that she was done,” he says. “She thought the quality was starting to slip. She wanted to go out while it was still a good show and she felt she was done with it.”
NBC opposed Arthur playing Dorothy, and had someone else in mind, too — Elaine Stritch.
“They wanted a bawdy broad and Elaine was cut from the same cloth,” Colucci says.
“But they ultimately relented when [writer] Susan Harris said, ‘I wrote this role for Be a and I want Bea.’
Producers wanted a different theme song
“They approached the publishing company for Bette Midler’s song, ‘Friends,’ but it was too expensive. Eventually of the producers remembered Andrew Gold’s song, ‘Thank You For Being A Friend.’”
“They licensed it and hired a session singer named Cynthia Fee. Even though the recording session was slated to last for an hour, she did it in one or two takes — maybe 20 or 30 minutes — and planned on never thinking of it again. The irony is that thanks to unions, every time your song gets played, you get paid. So this job she did on a random weekday in 1985 has put her kids through college.”
Betty White and Rue McClanahan switched roles at the last minute
“Betty was cast as Blanche because she played Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show so she could play man hungry. Rue was cast as Rose because she had been Vivian on Maude and Aunt Fran on Mama’s Family.”
“The director of the pilot, Jay Sandrich, had an idea and said to Rue that he wanted to try her to prepare lines for Blanche. Betty wasn’t particularly happy with [the switch] at first but she learned to like it.”
Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai is in bookstores now.