‘The Golden Girls’: Betty White and Bea Arthur Were Friendlier Than You Think

Betty White’s death at 99 on New Year’s Eve was a horrible blow to the entertainment industry. The Golden Girls fans are saddened to have lost the finale member of the famed cast. Mourning the loss has brought old discussions back to the surface. White’s death has reignited rumors about an on-set feud that has persisted for decades. Despite the rumor that Betty White and Bea Arthur disliked each other, the duo was actually friendlier than you might think.

Betty White, the last living member of ‘The Golden Girls’ cast, has died 

Just weeks shy of her 100th birthday, Betty White’s death sent shockwaves through Hollywood. Her longtime agent and friend, Jeff Witjas, echoed the sentiments of millions of people, all of who adored White. He told People that although White was approaching her 100th birthday, he thought she would live forever. So did fans. Witjas added later that White appeared to die peacefully in her sleep at her California home. 

Following Betty White's death, fans flocked to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to set up a memorial
Betty White’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame | RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The heartbreaking death closes the book on The Golden Girls, the beloved 1980s sitcom. White outlived her castmates by more than a decade. Estelle Getty, the actor who played Sophia Petrillo, died in 2008 following a long illness. The following year, Bea Arthur, who took on the role of Dorothy Zbornak, died from cancer. In 2010, Rue McClanahan, the youngest member of the cast, died after a cerebral hemorrhage. McClanahan portrayed Blanche Devereaux, while White took on the part of Rose Nylund.

While White was the last castmate for more than a decade, fans of the famed series still discussed the alleged on-set feud between Arthur and White. That feud might not have been as serious as people thought, though. In fact, it doesn’t appear to have been as serious as some cast members made it out to be, either.

Betty White and Bea Arthur regularly dined together while filming ‘The Golden Girls’

While White’s on-set antics reportedly annoyed Arthur, the duo didn’t have the massive feud that has been so heavily reported. Rue McClanahan once explained that Arthur often refused to go to lunch unless White was ready to go. They ate together often and sat with each other during dinners, too. 

Betty White and Bea Arthur chat at a signing event at Barnes and Noble in New York City in 2005
Betty White and Bea Arthur | Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic

Arthur’s son, Matthew Saks, revealed that Arthur and White were friends. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the two often commuted to the set of The Golden Girls together. He said, “there was no fighting at all. They were friends. At one point, they lived close enough that they would drive each other to work.”

The feud rumors started because of different acting styles 

Saks did admit that Arthur was irritated by White on occasions, but he chalked that up to his mother’s personality and their differing approaches to acting. Saks once said his mother thought it was “fun” to have someone to be angry with. That was easy for her to do with White because they had different personalities and approached acting in completely different ways. Still, the two maintained a cordial relationship off set. 

Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur chat on stage during the ' The Golden Girls ' DVD release party
Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur | Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

McClanahan seemed to agree when asked about Arthur and White’s feud. McClanahan, who died in 2010, explained that White and Arthur’s relationship wasn’t all that she had hoped it would be, but the rivalry was largely confined to the set. Calling Arthur “eccentric,” McClanahan explained that Arthur was simply particular about her job. McClanahan was friends with both Arthur and White and worked with each actor before they came together for The Golden Girls.

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