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Fans of The Golden Girls can probably sing every word to the show’s theme song. Those first few lines — “Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant” — signal we’re about to spend the next 22 minutes with our four favorite girls from Miami. However, behind the scenes, the Golden Girls cast members weren’t the closest pals.

The Golden Girls cast: Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, Betty White, Estelle Getty
The cast of ‘The Golden Girls’ | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘The Golden Girls’ cast members got along well enough

Betty White opened up about her castmates for those seven golden seasons: Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. For White, their differences made the show an extraordinary success.

“It’s like four points on a compass,” White explained in a 1997 conversation with the Archive of American Television. “We were each so different from the other, and I think that’s why we fit together so well.

“And for the first five years, it was such a happy [time] … we’d sit around, and instead of going to our dressing rooms, we’d sit around and yak and talk about very intimate things.”

But off the set, the ‘Golden Girls’ actors had separate circles of friends 

Though the four stars of The Golden Girls were friendly enough, they didn’t move in the same circles, according to Rue McClanahan in her book, My First Five Husbands … and the Ones Who Got Away.

“We gals saw one another constantly at all the celebrity events we had to attend,” she wrote, “but we moved in very different social circles. Betty’s old friends were Hollywood names. Bea had her actor friends from New York. Estelle also had a large coterie of young gay guys, many from Torch Song Trilogy.

“My three Golden Girls castmates didn’t appear regularly at my parties, nor I at theirs. We all went to Estelle’s big birthday parties every summer, six months after Betty’s birthday. But never together.”

Their personalities sometimes clashed


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McClanahan explained that in real life, their unique personalities at times were too different to harmonize. She touched on her relationship with Bea Arthur:

“Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on,” McClanahan admitted in a 2006 conversation with the Archive of American Television. “Bea is a very, very eccentric woman. For instance, she wouldn’t go to lunch unless Betty would go with her. She wouldn’t go to dinner between shows in our bathrobes unless Betty would walk across the tarmac with her to the cafeteria. She was very dependent on having everything be as it always had been.”

The Blanche Devereaux actor added, “I was anything but that. I was, ‘Let’s create the moment.'”