Betty White Says ‘The Golden Girls’ Spin-Off Flopped and It’s Not For the Reason Most People Think
Iconic actor Betty White has said more than once that working on the classic comedy series with Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty was one of the best times of her life. With this ensemble cast, it’s no wonder.
When The Golden Girls ended its run in 1992 and the cast moved on to its new series, The Golden Palace, White said, the spin-off eventually flopped. But it wasn’t because Bea Arthur left the cast.
‘The Golden Girls’ just celebrated its 35th anniversary since it first aired
What would become one of NBC’s biggest hit series began airing in Sept. 1985. It’s beloved by newer and newer generations of fans.
Now 35, the comedy broached topics that today are still relevant, with a comic sensibility that present-day audiences appreciate.
Rue McClanahan’s son, Mark Bish, told Closer Weekly in Aug. 2020 that the cast were the right people together with the right professional backgrounds.
“Their abilities ran deep,” he said. “They pretty much could have done anything. All of them had been trained to do much more than act in a sitcom.”
‘The Golden Palace’ was said to have failed because of Bea Arthur’s exit
In 1992, as the series’ seventh season approached, Bea Arthur, who died in 2009, announced she would be leaving the show. It was a blow to her cast mates and their fans, but Arthur was ready to take a break from regular series work.
Her son, Matthew Saks, told Closer “the ideas had started to run out.” He explained that his mother “was not unhappy, but she was getting up there in age and there were other things she wanted to do, like relax.”
After her departure and the series’ conclusion, NBC moved on without Arthur. The network installed White, McClanahan, and Getty in a spin-off series, The Golden Palace, that saw the ladies sell Blanche Devereaux’s home and buy a hotel, hoping hilarity and killer ratings would ensue.
The ratings were a disaster and The Golden Palace was cancelled after one season.
Betty White says this is the reason ‘The Golden Palace’ didn’t succeed
In a 1997 conversation with the Archive of American Television, the 98-year-old star gave her take on the spin-off’s failure.
“It sounded like a marvelous idea,” White said. “These cloistered women who’d been living in their nest, in their house, sell the house because Dorothy gets married. They buy a hotel in Florida, one of these art deco modern hotels. And they have to get out of that sequestered situation and face life as it comes in off the street, through the lobby of the hotel. It’s a whole new world for them, which would be interesting.”
Here, White explained her perspective on what limited the show from succeeding.
“Problem was, we had the same writers,” the Hot in Cleveland star said. “And if a script began to not fall together, they’d give one or other of us a monologue and pretty soon we were doing Golden Girls in the lobby.”
The show was not renewed after its premiere season.
“And I think that’s why we only went a year. It was too much trying to do the same old Golden Girls without the balance of the show. The idea was sound, but the writers weren’t ready for it.”