‘Golden Girl’ Rue McClanahan Died at 76
Another star had its lights dimmed out. Rue McClanahan, one of the legendary “Golden Girls” has died.
The Emmy-winning actress, who brought the man-eater Blanche Devereaux to life on the long-running TV series, died Thursday in New York after suffering a massive stroke. She was 76.
Her manager, Barbara Lawrence confirmed the sad news to media outlets, saying that McClanahan died Thursday morning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital of a brain hemorrhage. Lawrence also added that McClanahan died in peace, surrounded by her family.
The actress had undergone treatment for breast cancer in 1997 and later lectured to cancer support groups on “aging gracefully.” She suffered a minor stroke last November while recovering from heart bypass surgery.
McClanahan’s death leaves 88-year-old Betty White as the only surviving member of “The Golden Girls” main cast, following the deaths of Bea Arthur from cancer in 2009 and Estelle Getty in 2008. In a statement, White called McClanahan “a close and dear friend” and said she treasured their relationship. “It hurts more than I even thought it would, if that’s possible,” White said.
Born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma, in 1934, McClanahan began her career on the stage, working off Broadway until the late 1960s, and then had her television debut in the early 1970s. She had a recurring role on the sitcom Maude between 1972 and 1978, where she starred alongside Bea Arthur, but it was “Golden Girls” which catapulted her into the big-time.
She co-starred with Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty in “The Golden Girls,” a runaway hit that broke the sitcom mold by focusing on the foibles of four aging — and frequently eccentric — women living together in Miami. The popular series ran for seven years from 1986 to 1992.
The role of Blanche Devereaux got her an Emmy Award in 1987. And in addition to that, McClanahan earned Emmy nods three other times and was also nominated for three Golden Globe honors in the same role.
After “The Golden Girls” was canceled in 1992, McClanahan, White and Getty reprised their roles in a short-lived spinoff, “Golden Palace.” She then continued working in television, on stage and in film, appearing in the Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau vehicle “Out to Sea” and as the biology teacher in “Starship Troopers.”
The colorful backstory of McClanahan’s character on the show was mirrored by her own personal life — she was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son, Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D’Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel. She married Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.
Later in life, she wrote a memoir called “My First Five Husbands…And the Ones who Got Away,” and in 2005 returned to Broadway as Madame Morrible in the hit musical “Wicked.” Her TV work also includes guest appearances on shows from “The Love Boat” to “Law and Order.”
Rest in Peace, Rue McClanahan… you’ll forever be golden in our hearts.
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