Rue McClanahan, the Emmy-winning actress famous for starring in the hit 1980s TV series The Golden Girls, has died. Her manager Barbara Lawrence said the 76-year-old died from a stroke.
Born on February 21, 1934 in Oklahoma, Rue was active on the stage before branching out into television and movies. She had to wait until the 1980s before her role as The Golden Girls’ over-sexed, man-hungry Southern belle Blanche Devereaux brought her massive international fame.
The hit series centred on a group of elderly single women living in the same house together in Florida. Of the four, only veteran actress Betty White – who played Rose Nylund – is still alive. Bea Arthur (as acerbic Dorothy) and Estelle Getty (as Dorothy’s outspoken mother Sophia) passed away in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
The Golden Girls was nominated for many Emmy and Golden Globe awards, garnering both critical acclaim and impressive ratings. Its attitude towards sex, specifically sex for women over a certain age was pretty daring for its time. Nobody embodied this more than the flighty, flirty Blanche. She was always on the hunt for a man to take to bed.
"Your life’s an open blouse," the feisty Sophia said of Blanche. Quite simply, without The Golden Girls, and Rue McClanahan’s Blanche Devereaux in particular, there would be no Sex and the City. The Emmy she won for her work on the show in 1987 was well-deserved.
In addition to The Golden Girls, Rue’s other TV work included The Golden Palace (the flop Golden Girls spin-off), Law & Order, Columbo, Boy Meets World, Murder, She Wrote, Fantasy Island and Lou Grant.
The vegan and dedicated animal rights activist is survived by Morrow Wilson, her sixth husband whom she married in 1997, and a son from her first marriage. A gifted comedienne, her last screen appearance was in 2009.