Rue McClanahan, who won an Emmy for her hilarious Blanche Devereaux in the television sitcom The Golden Girls, died today following a massive stroke. McClanahan’s son reportedly took her off life support. She was 76.
The Golden Girls, which co-starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty, ran from 1985 to 1992. McClanahan won her Emmy in 1987. I usually find television sitcoms, no matter how “witty,” all but unwatchable. The Golden Girls was a rare exception; one in which just about everything – acting, direction, script – worked flawlessly.
Though mostly a TV actress, McClanahan (born Feb. 21, 1934, in Healdton, Okla.) also appeared in a number of big-screen releases, usually in small roles, from the early ’60s to the mid-2000s. Among those were Anthony Harvey’s They Might Be Giants (1971), starring Joanne Woodward and George C. Scott; Martha Coolidge’s Out to Sea (1997), with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau; and Gary Don Rhodes’ Wit’s End (2005), with Udo Kier.
On TV, she also had a supporting role in the 1970s sitcom Maude, starring Bea Arthur; played the old Billie Burke role of Clara Topper in a 1979 remake of the supernatural comedy classic Topper (1937); and co-starred with Betty White and Estelle Getty in the short-lived Golden Girls’ spin-off The Golden Palace in the early 1990s.
More recently, McClanahan had a recurring role in the series Sordid Lives.
As quoted in The Associated Press’ McClanahan obit, White, the only survivor among the four Golden Girls actresses, remarked: “I treasured our relationship. It hurts more than I even thought it would, if that’s even possible.”
Photo: Touchstone Television