Golden Girls is one of those classic shows that everyone remembers watching over and over. The show was so clever and funny, with the best cast possible.
The women on this show were the absolute highlight. They each had a hilarious personality that fit so perfectly together. The actresses themselves are also incredible women. Their lives before and after the show were super fascinating.
Ever wonder what the Golden Girls did before they were famous?
Estelle Getty – Sophia Petrillo
Even though she played the oldest character on Golden Girls, Estelle was actually younger than half of them! Both Betty White and Bea Arthur were born in 1922 but Estelle was born in 1923. There was a lot of makeup involved to age her up.
She was born in New York City where her family owned a glass store but she always knew she wanted to go into acting. She took acting and dancing lessons in high school and participated in a lot of theater.
She even tried doing stand-up comedy in upstate New York but apparently the sexism in the industry made it impossible for her to succeed.
She married a businessman named Arthur Gettleman when she was only 24, using a form of his name as her stage name. She started with small parts in theater productions, proving her comedic skills once and for all.
She was cast in Golden Girls while on tour with the play “Torch Song Trilogy” and the rest is history!
Rue McClanahan – Blanch Deveraux
She was born in Oklahoma in 1934 and was a very studious child. She was a part of the honor society in her school and later graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tulsa.
Her Bachelors is a double major in German and theater. She started acting in 1957 in off-Broadway plays and made her way to Broadway proper by 1969.
Her first big television success was on the soap opera Another World. After that she was cast in the show Maude with her future Golden Girls co-star Bea Arthur.
Apparently this long standing working relationship didn’t mean they were friends though. While McClanahan was good friends with Betty White, apparently Arthur was not a fan of either of them. McClanahan admitted that “Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on,” when interviewed.
Click to the next page to learn about Bea Arthur’s time in World War II and what everyone’s favorite human, Betty White, did before she was a star.
Bea Arthur – Doroth Zbornak
She was born in New York in 1922. Her family moved to Maryland during the Great Depression and opened a clothing store.
But her life changed when World War II hit. She because one of the first women to become an active-duty United States Marine.
She didn’t speak about it while she was alive, but after she passed away documents emerged that listed her as a truck driver and typist.
She enlisted at 21 in 1943 and advanced to the tank of staff sergeant before being honorably discharged in 1945.
After she left the Marines, she started to study acting. She first appeared on TV in a series called Once Upon a Tune. She later won a Tony Away for her role in the play Mame.
Her role as Maude landed her five Emmy nominations before ending up on Golden Girls.
Betty White – Rose Nylund
Betty White is basically a national treasure. She is a precious little human that brings joy and happiness to every role she has ever played. From the Mary Tyler Moore Show, to Golden Girls, and everything else she has ever done, Betty White is just the best.
Betty White was born in Illinois in 1922. She moved to California during the Great Depression and to make money her father would sell and repair radios.
Her original plan in life was to become a forest ranger, but the rules stated that only men could be park rangers so she had to come up with a new plan. It was after pursuing writing that she realized that her true interest was performing the plays she wrote and changed her focus to acting.
When she started to look for acting work she was told that she was “unphotogenic” so she got a job in radio.
She obviously proved those people wrong! But before she did she joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services during World War II and then finally started to make her way on TV. She even had her own talk show for a little while!
She hasn’t stopped acting even though she is now 95 years old. We are just so lucky to have her.
Who was your favorite Golden Girl? Share in the comments!
If you want to know which other celebrities served in WWII, check out this article!