This has been a horrible year for ’80s stars. Golden Girls star, Rue McClanahan has died at the age of 76. She passed away at 1 AM this morning from a massive stroke.
Rue McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma. She began acting on Off-Broadway in New York City in 1957, and made it to Broadway in 1969.
She got her television break when she played Maude’s (Bea Arthur) best friend, Vivian Harmon in the show Maude, which aired from 1972-1978.
In 1983-1984 McClanahan played Fran Harper, who was Thelma’s (or Mama’s) younger uptight sister.
Then she played her most popular character, the man crazy Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls from 1985 until 1992 and in The Golden Palace for one year after. Devereaux was the owner of a house which was lived in by three other roommates: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). She received an Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Golden Girls. When speaking about her character, she said that Blanche, “is in love with life and she loves men. I think she has an attitude toward women that’s competitive. She is friends with Dorothy and Rose, but if she has enough provocation she becomes competitive with them. I think basically she’s insecure. It’s the other side of the Don Juan syndrome.”
McClanahan was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1997, from which she completely recovered.
On November 14, 2009, she was to be honored for her lifetime achievements at an event “Golden: A Gala Tribute To Rue McClanahan” at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California. The event was postponed due to McClanahan’s hospitalization. She had triple bypass surgery on November 4. It was announced on January 14, 2010, by Entertainment Tonight that while recovering from surgery she had suffered a minor stroke. In March 2010, Betty White reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that McClanahan was doing well and that her speech had returned to normal.
McClanahan was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son, Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D’Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel. She married husband Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.
She called her 2007 memoir “My First Five Husbands … And the Ones Who Got Away.”
With Rue McClanahan’s death, Betty White is the last remaining “Golden Girl”
Here is a Blanche tribute video: