The legendary Betty White, who turned 98 last month, is widely-known for her sharp wit. With at least 117 acting credits under her belt, she is the last surviving cast member of the hit 1980’s sitcom Golden Girls.
The show won an Emmy twice for Outstanding Comedy Series and grabbed three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. But behind the scenes, things weren’t always so rosy between Rose Nylund (Betty White) and one of her roommates.
The part of the sultry, sexy character of Blanche Devereaux had been considered for Betty White. Fans of The Mary Tyler More Show will remember White for playing the role of Sue Ann Nivens who was a happy homemaker in front of the newsroom cameras but off-camera she could be man-obsessed and hyper-competitive. Yes, White was thought to be a sex symbol back then.
Nevertheless, White pulled off the role of naive, farm-raised Rose Nylund from St. Olaf with perfection.
McClanahan was initially considered for the role of Rose Nylund. Talk about your switcher-roo. Due to a casting director being concerned that White’s former nymphomaniac persona from The Mary Tyler Moore Show would still be attached to her, casting changes were made.
Rue McClanahan also nailed her part perfectly as the man-loving southern belle with the exaggerated accent. The actress once admitted to Glamour that it would have been painful to play Rose and that she would not have known where to start.
According to an old Fox News report, Dorthy Zbornak’s (Bea Arthur) annoyance with Rose might not have been an act. A friend of Arthur’s told the Globe that Arthur didn’t like White from the start and felt that White believed she was the star of the show. Rue McClanahan believed White’s fondness for playing to the audience irritated Arthur.
Reportedly, Arthur also resented White’s habit of trying to tell her how to deliver her lines and the show’s executives had major headaches because of their feuds.
The former Hot in Cleveland star once had her own show, The Betty White Show in the 1970’s. The actress and comedian was also a staple panelist on game shows including: Match Game, Hollywood Squares, and Password, which her late husband Allen Ludden hosted.
White is the recipient of eight Emmy Awards and was inducted in the Television Hall of Fame in 1985. She once said her secret recipe for a long and wonderful life was vodka and hot dogs. Ever the funny woman, thank you for being a friend.