‘Golden Girls’: How Old Were the Main Actors at the Time of Their Deaths?

Many people felt shocked and saddened to hear about the loss of Betty White. Fans of the actor considered her to be a national treasure, and they had hoped to celebrate another birthday. Besides entertainment, she dedicated her life to causes like animal welfare

'The Golden Girls' smiling
(L-R) Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund | Paul Drinkwater/Getty Images

White was the last remaining star of the hit show The Golden Girls. The series was one of the few on TV that featured an older cast. Her former co-stars died years before her at various ages. 

Who did each actor play in ‘The Golden Girls’?

The Golden Girls followed four older women who live together in Miami. The show’s IMDb page lists Bea Arthur as one of the main stars, and she portrayed Dorothy Zbornak. Dorothy had a divorce and appears practical and sarcastic. She gets married again and moves to Atlanta at the end of the series. 

Another well-known cast member was White, and she played Rose Nylund. Viewers know Rose for her unusual stories and being naive. The character is a widow with five children and finds work as an assistant in a TV station. 

Estelle Getty was the quick-witted Sophia Petrillo, and her character is Dorothy’s mother. Sophia moved in with the others after a fire at a retirement home. Rue McClanahan portrayed Blanche Devereaux, and Blanche often appears self-absorbed and desires men. 

McClanahan’s character also is a widow and a mother of six children. While all four characters became good friends, the actors were not as close. They were friendly enough off-camera, but each had her own friend circle. 

What were the ages of the stars when they died?

All four actors of The Golden Girls have died after living prosperous lives. According to Biography, Arthur was 86 years old when she died in 2009. She developed lung cancer and left behind a significant legacy. 

White’s Biography page shows that she died on December 31, 2021. She was 99, and her 100th birthday was a couple of weeks away. Many people offered sympathy and tributes on the internet and in real life. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that Getty was 84 when she died in her home in 2008 after battling dementia for years. Her 85th birthday was a few days away, and her former co-stars grieved their loss. 

According to The New York Times, McClanahan died in 2010 at the age of 76. She was at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital after suffering from a brain hemorrhage. The year before, McClanahan had a heart bypass surgery. 

Each actor lived a long and fulfilling life

Arthur began her career in theater before moving on to television. A couple of her notable works were Maude and Beggars and Choosers. After The Golden Girls, Arthur made numerous appearances in talk shows and sitcoms. She got married twice and had two kids. 

White had an active career until her death, and she starred in various films and TV shows. A few of her works include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maybe This Time, and The Lorax. White had gotten married three times but never had children out of choice. 

Getty starred in a couple of spinoff series after the show ended. She retired in 2000 after developing Lewy body dementia. In Getty’s personal life, she got married and had two children. The actor helped bring attention to AIDS, and she was a big supporter of the LGTBQ community. 

McClanahan also got married multiple times, and she had one kid. She started acting off-Broadway, and she gained some recognition from plenty of sitcoms. McClanahan obtained numerous acting credits and won several awards.

RELATED: Betty White Liked to Flirt With ‘The Golden Girls’ Live Audience, According to Rue McClanahan