Golden Girl – Memorian

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The Golden Girls is an  sitcom that originally aired on NBC september 1985 to may 14. Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, the show centers on four older women sharing a Miami, Florida home. The series was produced by Touchstone Television and distributed by Buena Vista Television. The sitcom was originally conceived by NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff and created by Susan Harris. Tartikoff was visiting his elderly aunt one day, and saw how she and her next-door neighbor, who also was her best friend, interacted with each other. Despite their constant bickering and arguments, they were still the best of friends and loved each other. He thought that would make a great premise for a TV show.[citation needed]

The Golden Girls won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. All four stars won at least one Emmy Award throughout the series’ entire run.

Characters:

Dorothy Zbornak

Main article: Dorothy Zbornak

Dorothy Zbornak (née Petrillo) was raised in Brooklyn, New York by her mother Sophia and her father Salvadore (played in flashbacks by Sid Melton and Kyle T. Heffner[1]). Nicknamed “Pussycat” by her mother, Dorothy had a younger brother and sister. Brother Phil, a cross-dresser, was never seen on the show. He later died of a heart attack and was buried in a teddy in an episode featuring Brenda Vaccaro as his widow. Sister Gloria, the youngest Petrillo sibling nicknamed “Kitten,” married into money; she appeared in two episodes, but was played by two different actresses (Doris Belack and Dena Dietrich). After moving to Miami in her later years, Dorothy continued working as a substitute teacher.

A few weeks after their high school prom, Stanley Zbornak got Dorothy pregnant and married her to legitimize the baby. Stan and Dorothy were married for 38 years, although Stan cheated on her numerous times, finally leaving her for a young flight attendant named Chrissy, whom he met on the way to a business conference in Hawaii. As Dorothy explained in one episode, the captain on the flight told the flight attendants to “give the passengers a lei.” Chrissy got confused (implying that she had sex with Stan), but she and Stan ended up marrying and living on Maui. Dorothy had two children, Kate and Michael, and a grandchild named Robbie.

Though Dorothy and Stan were divorced, he made numerous appearances on the show (the character of Stan was portrayed by Herb Edelman), usually running to Dorothy whenever something went wrong in his life, and always opening with the line “Hi…it’s me, Stan”, every time he’d visit her. Stan continually saw Dorothy as a comforting, reliable figure, even though he was the one who destroyed their marriage. Stan and Dorothy ended up having a one-night stand in the first season (which Stan mistakenly thought would lead to a reconciliation), and, a few seasons later, they started dating again with plans to re-marry. Dorothy called off the reconciliation on the day of the wedding when Stan asked her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement (Stan had by this time become a successful businessman selling novelty items). Dorothy’s proud mother, Sophia, who had never quite forgiven her “yutz” son-in-law for cheating on her daughter, proudly announced to the wedding guests: “She turned him down. Remember that!”

After seven years of playing Dorothy, Bea Arthur made it clear that she wanted to leave the series. In the series’ final episode, Dorothy married Blanche’s uncle Lucas Hollingsworth (played by Leslie Nielsen). Stan, though saddened to see Dorothy move on to her new life without him, gave Dorothy his blessing while disguised as the limo driver who took her to the wedding.

 Rose Nylund

Main article: Rose Nylund

Rose Nylund (née Lindstrom) was from the small farming town of St. Olaf, Minnesota, a community of Scandinavian-Americans that was once referred to by Dorothy as “the cradle of idiocy.” Rose loves telling profoundly strange stories of life growing up there. Typical stories focused on people with names such as Hans, Lars, or Sven and various experiences with herring. Though Rose was decidedly the mildest-mannered of all four roommates, she had an incredibly competitive streak, which reared its head during several situations, most notably the bowling championship in the episode entitled “The Competition” and while coaching a boys’ football team with Dorothy.

Rose is known for being quite naive, and taking the meaning of everything literally. For example, Dorothy once mentioned that she once cut off Stan’s sex, prompting Rose to ask, “You mean it grows back?” She is considered rather stupid by the other characters but occasionally exhibits superior insight and knowledge. She once helped Dorothy install a new toilet and exhibited thorough knowledge of plumbing parts, and claimed that the Journal of Abnormal Psychology was published in St. Olaf and that she’d read every issue.

Rose spent the first few years of her life in an orphanage in St. Olaf. As revealed in one memorable episode, she spent much of her life convinced that Bob Hope was her biological father. Toward the end of the series run, however, she learned she had been born out of wedlock to a monk (Don Ameche) and his lover, Ingrid, who died in childbirth. Shortly after birth, as detailed by a similar episode, Rose was left on the doorstep of an unknown family and subsequently adopted and raised by the large (and apparently somewhat bizarre) Lindstroms. Her adoptive father Gunter had died prior to the start of the series, but in one episode she was visited by her free-spirited adoptive mother, Alma whose maiden name was Gerkleknerbeigenhaufstetlerfrau (played by veteran star Jeanette Nolan); she later died off screen during the course of the series. Rose was one of 9 siblings (once stating that her parents loved “all 9 of us equally”); several were, like Rose, named after types of flowers. These included the two sisters who visited Rose in Miami: Lily, who was blind (played by Polly Holliday), and Holly (played by Inga Swenson), a professional musician whom Rose could not stand, as she seemed to act, as Rose once stated, “like such a jackass.”

Rose was married for many years to traveling insurance salesman Charlie Nylund, who moonlighted as a horseshoe salesman, and had 5 children: three daughters (Kirsten, Bridgette, and Jeanella) and two sons (Adam and Charlie Jr.). Kirsten and Bridgette would visit their mother in Miami on more than one occasion, while Adam, Charlie Jr., and Jeanella were mentioned but never seen on the show. Rose had several grandchildren, including two granddaughters, Charley and Charlene (the former appeared on The Golden Girls and the latter of visited Rose in The Golden Palace).

After Charlie’s death in 1980 (he died of a heart attack while they were making love), Rose lived alone in St. Olaf for a while, and then she moved to Miami and found work at a grief counseling center. During the show’s run, Charlie’s pension was cut off and Rose was forced to find a more lucrative job, ending up as the assistant to consumer reporter Enrique Mas at a local TV station. Over the course of the series, Rose also volunteered at the local hospital and worked on a number of charity projects.

In later seasons, Rose became romantically involved with college professor Miles Webber (played by Harold Gould). Rose later discovered that Miles was part of the Witness Protection Program. Webber was stated as previously being known as Nicholas Carbone, an accountant from Chicago. After a gangster named Mickey “The Cheese man” Moran faked his own death, Miles was briefly re-located to Pennsylvania as an Amish farmer named Samuel Plankmaker. Incidentally, the same actor who played Miles also played “Arnie,” one of Rose’s brief love interests in the first season.

Rose suffered from a number of health problems during the course of the show, most notably a massive heart attack during the show’s final season. In one episode, it was also indicated that Rose had been addicted to painkillers for many years, having been prescribed a drug many years earlier after a farm injury. Also, in an episode entitled “72 Hours,” Rose is informed that a blood transfusion she received during a routine surgery was possibly infected with HIV. After undergoing some routine tests, and anxiously waiting for 3 days, she is determined to be HIV-negative.

In honor of the character, the real-life township of St. Olaf created the Rose Nylund Award for Civic Excellence.

Blanche Devereaux

Main article: Blanche Devereaux

Blanche(Marie)Elizabeth Devereaux (née Hollingsworth), daughter of Elizabeth Ann Bennett and Curtis Hollingsworth, was a Southern belle who grew up on a plantation named “Twin Oaks” outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Blanche was always “the apple of her father’s eye” (she referred to him as “Big Daddy,” a reference to the Tennessee Williams character Harvey “Big Daddy” Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). However, she tried many times to spin his affection for her as more negative. Blanche had a love-hate relationship with her sisters Charmaine (Barbara Babcock) and Virginia (Sheree North). She also faced difficulty coming to terms with the homosexuality of her brother Clayton (Monte Markham) and the mental illness of her brother Tad (Ned Beatty), later revealed in The Golden Palace.

The house that the ladies shared, at 6151 Richmond St., initially belonged to Blanche, who had lived there for many years with her late husband George (played in flashbacks by George Grizzard). (Later in the series, however, she sold equal shares of the house to Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia.) Blanche and George possibly had 6 children: two daughters (Rebecca and Janet, both of whom made appearances on the show) and four sons (including Matthew, a CPA who appeared in the spin-off series The Golden Palace).[2] Biff, Doug, and Skippy were mentioned as her sons once to Dorothy but never mentioned again. Blanche had an estranged relationship with both of her daughters. Rebecca resented her for objecting to her plans to leave school to become a model in Paris; when she returned to visit for the first time in four years, she was now overweight, which Blanche had difficulty accepting at first. Janet resents Blanche for her lack of involvement in her life growing up, a fact that Blanche laments to this day regarding all of her children. Blanche had several grandchildren, notably David (a teenage rebel who visited Miami in one episode), Sara (who visited with her mother Janet during the last season), Melissa (a young beauty-pageant contestant), and Aurora (Rebecca’s infant daughter, conceived by artificial insemination in one of the series’ on-going storylines). Blanche acted as Rebecca’s birthing coach in the delivery and the experience helped further heal their relationship.

George Devereaux’s illegitimate son, David (played by Mark Moses), the seventh Devereaux child, was discovered when the young man turned up at the house, looking for George. This led Blanche to struggle with the fact that her husband, to whom she was devoted, was unfaithful during their marriage.

Throughout most of the series, Blanche was portrayed as man-hungry, and she clearly had the most male admirers—and stories detailing various sexual encounters—over the course of the series. At the funeral for her husband, George (who had died when a wrong-way driver hit him head-on), she made a date with a man because, as Rose said, “She can’t be without a man, do you know what I mean?” Sophia, in particular, had some of the best lines in relation to Blanche’s over-sexed nature, referring to her as a “human mattress.” When Dorothy asked Blanche how long she waited to have sex after George died, Sophia responded, “‘Til the paramedics came!” It was also revealed in one episode (when the girls mistakenly think that Blanche had slept with Rose’s husband Charlie due to some double-exposed film) that Blanche’s middle name was Elizabeth, giving her the initials B.E.D.. Another mistake on the writers’ part was when Blanche’s nanny, played by Ruby Dee, came to visit Blanche to ask for the music box. On this episode, it was revealed that her maiden name in fact was Blanche Marie Hollingsworth.

Blanche was very vain and, as a result, always tried to act younger than she was. Although it is widely believed that her exact age was never revealed (it was mentioned she even had her true date of birth removed from vital records “by order of the Governor”), in Season 3, Episode 25 entitled “Mother’s Day” (Aired May 7, 1988), it is revealed in a flashback that Blanche was 17 in 1949. That would make her 53 when the series began in 1985, and 61 when the spin-off ended in 1993.

Blanche was employed at an art museum, and her boss was Mr. Allen, a very nice man, although he admitted to having an affair with his best friend’s wife in an episode when Dorothy came to work at the museum, sparking jealousy in Blanche, which was an on-going trait of hers.

 Sophia Petrillo

Main article: Sophia Petrillo

Sophia Petrillo is the daughter of Don Angelo and his wife Eleanor from Sicily. Sophia was born in Sicily and moved to New York after she left Guido Spirelli at the altar (it was to be an arranged marriage). As a teenager, she was briefly engaged to a young man from her village, Augustine Bagatelli. In the fifth season episode “The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present”, it was revealed that she was also engaged to another young man, Giuseppe Mangiacavallo (Howard Duff), when she was 14. He left her at the altar. She married Salvador Petrillo (Sid Melton), and they had three children: Dorothy, a divorced substitute teacher whom Sophia depended upon and came to live with; Phil, a cross-dresser who was married with kids; and Gloria, who married into wealth, but eventually descended into dire poverty, after losing the fortune that her deceased husband (supposedy) left her, forcing her to beg for Dorothy and Sophia’s support.

Sophia was put away in the Shady Pines Retirement Home by Dorothy prior to the start of the series. Sophia had suffered a massive stroke, which, on more than one occasion, was said to have destroyed the part of her brain that acted as a censor; indeed, much of Sophia’s popularity comes from her humorous, and often shocking, frankness and general lack of inhibition. Sophia occasionally pretends to be slightly senile. In the pilot episode, she came to live with the girls after Shady Pines burned down. In a later episode, Sophia tried to run away to Sicily after becoming the prime suspect in starting the fire after making s’mores with a roommate on an illegal hotplate. Sophia never had good things to say about her retirement home, and she alluded to poor treatment by the staff many times throughout the series’ run (although, in an episode meant to raise awareness about poor-quality nursing homes, she did admit that the treatment at Shady Pines was satisfactory). There were constant hints in the series that she and her family back in Sicily had some mafia connections; she once stated that she had lived through “two world wars, 15 vendettas, 4 operations and two Darrins on Bewitched.” In one episode, she accidentally let it slip that she knew what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Members of Sophia’s family who appeared throughout the course of the show include: her sister Angela (played by Nancy Walker), her brother Angelo (played by Bill Dana), her daughter Gloria (played by Doris Belack and Dena Dietrich), and, in flashbacks, her husband Sal, her mother (played by Bea Arthur), and her father (also played by Bill Dana), and Dorothy herself at a younger age (played by Lyn Greene). Phil, her only son, was never seen and he became sort of a minor running joke as Sophia would mention something lovingly about her children, and then her face would drop and she would add a resigned “…except for Phil”. He died later on in the series when he suffered a heart attack (due to his obesity) while trying on large women’s clothing (even in his wake, Phil is referred to as wearing women’s clothing). In the episode “Ebbtide’s Revenge,” after her son’s funeral, Sophia (with the help of Dorothy’s no-nonsense personality and Rose’s caring counseling expertise from her grief counseling center job) finally realized the root of her anger, broke into tears, and ended the long feud with Phil’s wife Angela (played by Brenda Vaccaro). It is revealed that Sophia was angry at herself because she wondered what she had done or said to her son to make him want to be a cross-dresser, and she is finally able to reconcile with Angela after coming to the realization that she still loved him. In one of Sophia’s few true emotional moments, she says, “My baby’s gone.” Sophia always referred to Angela as “Big Sally” because it got on Angela’s nerves. Phil, Angela, and their children lived in a trailer home in Newark, New Jersey.

During the series’ run, Sophia married Max Weinstock (played by Jack Gilford), Sal’s business partner, and attempted to revive Sal and Max’s old pizza-and-knish business at the beach, but they soon separated, realizing they were better off as friends “with occasional benefits.” Throughout the series, she held a few part-time jobs mostly involving food, including fast-food worker and entrepreneur of spaghetti sauce and homemade “chuck wagon” sandwiches.

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One Response to “Golden Girl – Memorian”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Hi I think this is a fantastic blog, keep up the good work…

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