The Golden Girls is an iconic series, counting people like Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and Freddie Mercury among its supposed fans.
Starring Bea Arthur (Dorothy), Betty White (Rose), Rue McClanahan (Blanche), and Estelle Getty (Sophia), the series ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992, telling the story of four single, older women living in a house together in Miami. The show was witty, hilarious, touching, and relatable. So it’s no surprise that it continues to be popular with today’s generation who have found ways to get their hands on episodes to binge.
Think you know everything about the main characters from the series? Here are a few hidden details that you might have missed.
Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan is mentioned often in the series, and while we know they divorced after 38 years, how did they end up married in the first place?
Dorothy sadly believed that she was stood up at prom when, in reality, Sophia actually turned her date away because he was being disrespectful and wasn’t dressed appropriately. After previously having been in a relationship with a guy who was emotionally abusive, a fed-up and dejected Dorothy turned to Stan simply because she didn’t think she could do any better.
She ended up getting pregnant in high school, and they had a shotgun wedding. Bet Sophia wishes she hadn’t turned that prom date away!
Despite playing the hilarious, equally sharp-tongued mother to Bea Arthur’s character Dorothy, actress Estelle Getty was actually a year younger than Arthur in real life.
The make-up department had to work a lot of magic to make Getty look much older than she actually was, as Sophia Petrillo. Apparently, the process took 45 minutes every time filming was to occur. It speaks volumes as to Getty’s talents since it would have been far easier (and would have probably eaten up much less of the budget) to hire an actor who was actually much older.
You might wonder how producers and writers came up with such a surname as Zbornak for Dorothy’s character. It was actually the last name of someone who worked on the show.
Kent Zbornak was a stage manager for the series’ entire run. Reportedly, Harris really grew to love the name after working with Zbornak on the series Soap, and lifted it for the character - surely with his permission and blessing, of course. According to his IMDb page, Kent Zbornak continues to work in the business, with credits for series like The Office, The Conners, and Dear White People. So while Golden Girls is over, and sadly, Arthur passed away in 2009, the name Zbornak lives on.
Despite the fact that Dorothy was always seen wearing big, funky earrings, which became part of her iconic look, actress Bea Arthur didn’t actually have pierced ears.
Every pair she wore were clip-ons, pulling on her ears through the entire filming process until she was able to take them off. She has said in interviews that her ears often felt numb after filming. Still, whether Arthur liked it or not, perfectly-coiffed, short white hair paired with big earrings have become integral to Dorothy's signature look.
Show creator Susan Harris had her own personal struggle with finding a diagnosis for chronic fatigue syndrome. So when Dorothy went through this same issue in the episode entitled “Sick and Tired,” it was pulled right from Harris’ own situation.
In the episode, Dorothy isn’t taken seriously when she visits doctors and explain her symptoms. Along with building awareness about the syndrome, it was a commentary on how women are often perceived and treated differently than men by medical professionals, a topic that is still very relevant today.
Did you notice that Dorothy never wore any kind of heeled shoes? Aside from the fact that Dorothy was already much taller than the rest of the cast at a towering almost 5’ 10’’, there’s a secondary reason that she never wore heels: actress Bea Arthur couldn’t walk in them!
Reportedly, she refrained from wearing heels when she was younger to avoid being taller than all of her dates. And when she got over that worry, it was too late, and she just couldn’t get the hang of walking nicely in them.
The gaudy straw purse that Sophia was always carrying around whenever the girls were going somewhere or seen out and about, was actually a find by actress Estelle Getty. She reportedly came across it while shopping for props she could use at the audition for the role.
Clearly producers and creators loved the idea of the ugly but perfectly-suited purse so much that they had Getty bring it back once she officially secured the role. And the purse became an iconic and memorable part of the show.
Coming from a theatre background, and with much less TV acting experience than the rest of the cast, Estelle Getty reportedly suffered from severe stage fright at times, often freezing and forgetting her lines.
She was so worried, in fact, that she often kept her lines hidden in objects in front of her so she could refer to them if she forget.
Whether she did it or not, we never noticed. And really, since every story began with “Picture it: Sicily, 1922….,” as long as she remembered that, it was all good! Plus, many of Sophia's lines were short witty comebacks that were often the funniest of every episode. So it was worth a second take if Getty forgot them in order to make sure she got the delivery just right. Because the end result? Golden every time.
Ever notice that while Sophia had no filter, and often joked about or made fun of just about anything or anyone, she never once bashed the LGBTQ community or joked about domestic violence?
That is because Estelle Getty refused to do so and made sure the writers never wrote such jokes into the script. She was reportedly very close with many of the gay writers on the series and was a supporter of the community. So while Sophia might have had strong opinions on a lot of topics, and might have seemed very old-school, those were two topics she never touched, thanks to Getty's insistence.
Whenever the girls were feeling down, or just needed to enjoy some gal time, they always sat at the kitchen table. And oftentimes, their talks were accompanied by cheesecake. Lots of cheesecake.
Supposedly through the entire series’ seven-season run, the girls ate more than 100 cheesecakes. That’s a lot of dessert and a lot of talking! Interestingly, Bea Arthur actually hated cheesecake in real life. Too bad they couldn’t have started it off with tiramisu or something else.