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March 29, 2023

Walking Down Memory Lane with Rue McClanahan: A Tribute to the Golden Girls Star

As a child of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s easy to remember the many iconic moments of TV’s Golden Girls, a show about four women who lived out their golden years together in Miami. Of the four actresses on the show, Rue McClanahan, who played the unforgettable Blanche Devereaux, was the one who always stood out to me. With her sultry Southern accent and constant stream of zingers, McClanahan brought a unique charm and humor to the show that made her a fan favorite.

In this blog post, we will take a trip down memory lane and pay tribute to this iconic actress and her unforgettable contribution to the world of television. From her early days in show business to her unforgettable Golden Girls run, we’ll explore it all in a storytelling approach.

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Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born in Healdton, Oklahoma, in 1934, McClanahan initially aspired to be a dancer. She even moved to New York City to study at the famous Martha Graham School of Dance. However, her dreams were cut short due to a knee injury.

Determined to make it as a performer, McClanahan began to take acting classes and landed her first theater role in New York City in 1957. Over the years, she continued to act on stage and on-screen, eventually earning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Mame in 1974.

Fun fact: McClanahan also worked as a movie critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the ’60s and ’70s.

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Golden Girls: The Breakout Role

While McClanahan had a successful career before Golden Girls, it was her role as Blanche Devereaux that made her a household name. McClanahan brought a fiery spirit to the role of the man-hungry Southern belle, earning an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987.

Over the course of the show’s run from 1985 to 1992, McClanahan’s Blanche was a standout favorite among fans and critics alike. Her chemistry with the other actresses on the show was undeniable, and her one-liners and double entendres became iconic.

Fun fact: McClanahan was originally asked to play the role of Rose on the show but begged to play Blanche instead, considering how much she related to the character’s sensuality and love of gossip.

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An Active Advocate for LGBTQ+ Rights

In addition to her successful acting career, McClanahan was also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Her son, Mark Bish, was openly gay, and she was an active participant in the AIDS fundraising and awareness campaigns of the ’90s.

McClanahan was also a supporter of PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays), and she regularly spoke out against laws that discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community.

Post-Golden Girls Career Highlights

After Golden Girls ended, McClanahan continued to work in television, film, and stage productions. She appeared on shows like Touched By An Angel and Law & Order: SVU, and she even had a recurring role on the soap opera, Another World.

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Fun fact: McClanahan also starred in a short-lived series called Sordid Lives, which was based on the play of the same name by Del Shores.

A Life Well-Lived

Sadly, Rue McClanahan passed away at the age of 76 in 2010. However, her legacy as an actress, activist, and overall force of nature lives on. She left behind a body of work that still entertains and inspires new generations of fans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What other TV shows did Rue McClanahan star in besides Golden Girls?

A. Rue McClanahan appeared in various TV shows like Mama’s Family, Touched By An Angel, and Law & Order: SVU.

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Q. Did Rue McClanahan win any awards for her role in Golden Girls?

A. Yes, McClanahan won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987 for her portrayal of Blanche Devereaux.

Q. Was Rue McClanahan an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights?

A. Yes, she was an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and was a regular participant in AIDS fundraising and awareness campaigns.

Q. What was Rue McClanahan’s breakout role?

A. Her most memorable role was Blanche Devereaux on the TV show Golden Girls.

Q. Which character did Rue McClanahan initially audition for on Golden Girls?

A. McClanahan auditioned for the role of Rose Nylund but asked to be considered for Blanche instead.

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Q. What was Rue McClanahan’s background before she became an actress?

A. McClanahan initially aspired to be a dancer but later became an actress after an injury cut short her dancing career.

Q. What was Rue McClanahan’s cause of death?

A. McClanahan passed away due to a stroke at the age of 76.

Conclusion: The Legacy of an Icon

Rue McClanahan was an actress, activist, and all-around incredible woman who left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and beyond. Whether you remember her as Blanche, Mame, or one of her many other roles, there’s no denying the impact she had on pop culture and beyond. Her talent, humor, and passion will be missed, but her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

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If you haven’t already, take a moment to reflect on the incredible work of Rue McClanahan and revisit her unforgettable performances. You won’t regret it.

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