When I was a little girl, I spent a significant portion of my school breaks and summers in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the home of my gorgeous and fasionable Grandma Jeanne
(The devastatingly handsome man with her is my Grandpa Bob; and yes, she maintained the highest level of style until the day she passed).
It was during these visits that I was first exposed to the Golden Girls. Grandma Jeanne, like most women of retirement age during its 1985-1992 run, was a loyal viewer, and I joined her whenever I could. Given my age however, I was unable to grasp most of the issues the four women dealt with, the more serious of which ranged from homelessness to artificial insemination to the emerging AIDS crisis, nor was I aware that the characters were clad in some of the highest couture of the time. I just knew that these were four funny, graceful, and stylish women who reminded me of my grandmother. And as anyone who has ever had a grandmother knows, there is hardly anything in life that is more comforting.
Because of these memories, I have returned to the show many times in my life. Each time, I find a masterpiece of comidic timing perfectly balanced with continuously relevent social commentary. Not to mention a sweet wardrobe and a constant craving for cheesecake. Basically, Golden Girls was the Sex and the City that stayed clever, classy, and chic, and never sold out to designer name dropping, facile plots, and superficial character relationships.
Having always been primarily interested in dance and style, extensive knowledge of the series has also helped me connect with most of the men I’ve encountered. Actually, I’ve never met a gay or straight man or woman who, despite any initial, superficial misgivings about subject matter, hasn’t become hooked on the show upon watching. Which is why it’s especially sad that in the past two years, we’ve lost three of these lovely ladies. First, the utterly hilarious Estelle Getty, on July 22, 2008,
pictured here looking awesome after accepting her Emmy for playing the much older Sophia Petrillo.
Then, on April 25, 2009, the monumental Bea Arthur,
the mega-star who played Sophia’s daughter Dorothy Zbornak, the character that prompted my favorite and most bizarre childhood mannerism, fist-biting
And now, just yesterday, the endlessly sultry Rue McClanahan
who played Atlanta vixen Blanche Devereaux. Blanche proved that growing older didn’t mean growing out of your sexuality, that with a little swagger and an increased know-how that only comes with age, a woman could be sexy into her AARP years. Before Samantha Jones’ never-ending collection of cremes, hormones, and botox sessions (I’m sorry, is my distaste for SATC 2 showing? How embarrassing), Blanche showed women how to stay young with pure attitude, and gave us all hope for our golden years.
The only consolation for the loss of these tremendous comediennes is the surge in popularity of surviving funny lady Betty White
who played charming and ditzy St. Olaf native Rose Nylund. The past few years have seen her in several television and movie roles. Nearly half a million fans joined a facebook group urging her to host SNL, and in May she became the oldest person to do so at 88. To top off the Betty craze, she stars in the upcoming sitcom Hot in Cleveland. As a friend of mine said this week “Betty White is so hot right now.”
I like to think all of the Golden Girls are forever hot. Here’s a little gem that demonstrates the ease with which the sitcom and its actresses fit into pop culture today
Pretty sweet, huh?
So to Estelle, Bea, Rue, and Betty and their Golden Girl counterparts, right back atcha, in so many ways