Bea Arthur Hated Cheesecake – and 5 More Secrets From the Cast of ‘The Golden Girls’

Who hates cheesecake? Well — as it turns out – The Golden Girls Bea Arthur did! According to Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai, she didn’t enjoy the treat. “I hate cheesecake,” she said. And of the show, she added, “I didn’t like the cheesecake scenes either – I didn’t find them amusing.”

But that’s not the only secret deliciously served to fans in Golden Girls Forever! Keep reading to find out what naughty word they removed from Sophia’s lines in the pilot episode. And get some truth behind the rumored feud between Bea Arthur and Betty White. Here are five little-known-facts about the cast of The Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls on set, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Bea Arthur.
‘The Golden Girls’ | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images

Rue McClanahan had a convincing trick for eating on camera

According to Golden Girls Forever, Rue McClanahan’s method for eating on camera was so perfect, she fooled her co-star, Betty White. White once said, “She’d not only eat cheesecake, but when Sophia would make spaghetti, she’d eat that, too.”

But McClanahan clarified it was actually just great acting. She claimed, “Betty says that I always ate the cheesecake, but it’s not true. I would actually put a bite of cheesecake on my fork and move it close to my mouth. Then when the camera cut to someone else, I’d put it on a plate under my chair. By the time they’d cut back to me, I would pretend to be chewing.”

None of the stars were ‘at all’ like their characters on ‘The Golden Girls’, according to Rue McClanahan

In an essay shared in Golden Girls Forever, McClanahan said that none of the stars of the show were “at all” like their TV characters.

On herself as Blanche Deveraux, she said the character had a side that was very much unlike her. “She could be homophobic, which I’m not,” she explained. Furthermore, she noted how Blanche was “grossed out by her daughter’s artificial insemination, which [McClanahan] wouldn’t have been at all.”

As far as White’s dim-witted character — Rose Nylund — McClanahan said White was like her “probably the least of all, because she has nothing but brains.”

On Estelle Getty’s comparisons to Sophia Petrillo, she said, “Estelle isn’t at all pushy and vitriolic like Sophia – but they both were New York funny.”

And finally, on Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, McClanahan said, “Dorothy’s failure in life is completely different from Bea’s huge successes.”

Estelle Getty was supposed to say ‘douchebag’ in the pilot episode of ‘The Golden Girls’

The Golden Girls was ahead of its time in a few ways, but that had to be dialed back sometimes. According to Golden Girls Forever, Sophia was supposed to call Blanche’s fiancé a “douchebag” in the pilot episode. But writers removed the word out of an abundance of preliminary caution.

For the record, Sophia wasn’t wrong but says, “The man is a scuzzball,” instead. And who else didn’t know that “douchebag” was already an insult in 1985?     

Estelle Getty did ‘whatever she could’ to fight HIV and AIDS  

According to actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, Estelle Getty “ended up being in the middle of the AIDS epidemic from day one.”

As shared in Golden Girls Forever, when Getty went to Los Angeles for The Golden Girls, she was “doing whatever she could to fight the disease,” Fierstein said. “We were fighting that war very early on. Because this was Estelle’s family. These were her kids. She loved them, and seeing them die, one by one, just destroyed her.”

Notably, The Golden Girls was also one of the first sitcoms to touch on the AIDS epidemic – especially from a standpoint that showed it as a problem outside of the gay community. This occurred in an episode called “72 Hours” where Rose is warned she may have been exposed to HIV by a blood transfusion.

Bea Arthur and Betty White had tension because of their different personalities

Many fans of The Golden Girls have heard rumblings of the supposed feuding between White and Arthur on set. White once commented to Joy Behar on CNN that Arthur wasn’t very fond of her, and it seems like it came down to personality types.

According to Arthur’s adopted son, Matthew Saks, his mom was tough to impress. In 2015, he spoke publicly with Closer magazine and said Arthur unwittingly thought it was “fun to have someone to be angry at.”

But Saks also said the two women rode to set together. And in an interview from the Archive of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, McClanahan revealed Arthur wouldn’t go out to lunch with her unless White would join them.

So, while Arthur and White seemed to have a complicated relationship which supposedly led to some disagreements, they seemed to work around it pretty well considering the ongoing success of The Golden Girls.

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