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"The Golden Girls": Trivia and Fun Facts

John Bridges is a published author of history, and politics. His doctorate is in criminal justice. He's a fan of trivia and the Golden Girls

The Golden Girls was an American situation comedy. It was unique because most shows at the time had a youthful cast. The concept of a show about four older women sharing a home was a novelty idea. It was uncertain if it would fly at all. As we know now, it was a huge success.

the-golden-girls-trivia-and-fun-facts-for-devoted-fans-only

Blanche Devereaux: Rue McClanahan

Rue McClanahan played Blanche on the show. The role was originally offered to Betty White and McClanahan was offered the part of Rose. White was worried that, after her role of Sue Anne Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, playing another sex-obsessed character would cause her to be typecast. The roles were then swapped.

McClanahan started her acting career on stage, eventually making her debut on Broadway in 1969 opposite Dustin Hoffman. She got her television break starring alongside Bea Arthur in Maude, followed by a starring role on Mama's Family alongside Betty White.

As part of her contract, McClanahan got to keep all of her designer outfits from the show. The nearly 500 outfits filled her 13 closets to the brim.

She was an animal welfare advocate and vegetarian. McClanahan was one of the first celebrity supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). McClanahan was a supporter of gay rights, including advocating for same-sex marriage in the United States.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is Blanche's maiden name?
    • O'Hara
    • Jefferson
    • Hollingsworth
    • Dubois
  2. What is Blanche's middle name?
    • Scarlet
    • Elizabeth
    • Charlotte
    • Dixie
  3. How many children does Blanche have?
    • Two
    • Four
    • Six
    • None
  4. Blanche discovers her one of her brothers is gay, what is his name?
    • Beau
    • Cleatus
    • Clayton
    • Ambrose
  5. What is the name of Blanche's family plantation?
    • Twin Oaks
    • Shady Pines
    • Echo Glen
    • Dixie Meadows
  6. What is Blanche's dead husbands name?
    • Quinton
    • George
    • Ulysses
    • Jefferson
  7. How did Blanche's husband die?
    • Heart attack during sex
    • Shot in a duel
    • Lost at sea
    • Car crash
  8. Blanche is said to have grown up near what southern city?
    • New Orleans
    • Montgomery
    • Biloxi
    • Atlanta

Answer Key

  1. Hollingsworth
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Six
  4. Clayton
  5. Twin Oaks
  6. George
  7. Car crash
  8. Atlanta
the-golden-girls-trivia-and-fun-facts-for-devoted-fans-only

Dorothy Zbornak: Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur played Dorothy, a school teacher and the smartest and most grounded of the group. She was often frustrated with the ludicrous ideas of her roommates and equally annoyed when their pie in the sky ideas actually worked.

Arthur was born in Brooklyn; her family later moved to Maryland. As a teenager, she developed a serious (and life-threatening) blood clotting condition. Her parents sent her to boarding school mainly so she would have access to the medical care she might need.

Arthur joined the Marines and was one of the first women in the Marine reserve. She served as a typist and later as a truck driver. She rose to the rank of Staff Sargent. After the Marines, she returned to college and became a medical technician She later married a fellow Marine, Robert Aurthur, but the marriage did not last long. She did keep his surname, but she changed the spelling.

Arthur began her acting career on stage in the 1940s. She gained attention through the 1950s. Aside from The Golden Girls, she acted in All in the Family and then starred in Maude alongside Rue McClanahan.

Arthur was a longtime champion of equal rights for women and an active advocate of the elderly and Jewish communities through her charity work and personal outspokenness. She embraced the gay community who had supported her since the 1970s. Later in life, Arthur took up the cause of LGBT youth homelessness.

While the role was written with Bea Arthur in mind, NBC was not entirely sold on her being cast in the role. Lee Grant was their first choice, but she declined the part. Arlene Stritch was considered but while attempting to make a joke, she accidentally insulted the writer and was immediately removed from contention. Arthur herself was reluctant to accept the part but was encouraged by her friend Rue McClanahan.

Arthur hated wearing shoes. She had it written into her contract that she could walk around set barefoot as long as she promised not to sue the producers if she was injured. She liked the jewelry she wore, but did not have pierced ears and complained about the pain her earrings caused. She also reportedly hated chewing gum and birds. She also refused to give her consent to potential directors who wore their hat backwards.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which Golden Girls actor was the oldest?
    • McClanahan (Blanche)
    • White (Rose)
    • Getty (Sophia)
    • Arthur (Dorothy)
  2. Which Golden Girls actor was the youngest?
    • McClanahan (Blanche)
    • White (Rose)
    • Getty (Sophia)
    • Arthur (Dorothy)
  3. Which Golden Girls actor left ending the series?
    • McClanahan (Blanche)
    • White (Rose)
    • Getty (Sophia)
    • Arthur (Dorothy)
  4. While the characters all loved cheesecake, which actor did not actually like cheesecake?
    • McClanahan (Blanche)
    • White (Rose)
    • Getty (Sophia)
    • Arthur (Dorothy)
  5. How many chairs were there at the kitchen table?
    • One
    • Two
    • Three
    • Four
  6. The show is credited with introducing the world to which word formerly only used in Florida?
    • Vestibule
    • Lanai
    • Cul de Sac
    • Snowbirds
  7. When a fan told TV Guide that the show wasn't as good as it had been during its first season, what did Bea Arthur do?
    • Cry
    • Fired three writers
    • Wrote a response to TV Guide
    • Called the fan
  8. What is Dorothy's sister's name?
    • Delilah
    • Gloria
    • Stephania
    • Francesca
  9. What astrological sign is Dorothy?
    • Cancer
    • Gemini
    • Taurus
    • Leo
  10. What is Dorothy's fathers name?
    • Stanley
    • Maurice
    • Leonardo
    • Salvadore

Answer Key

  1. White (Rose)
  2. McClanahan (Blanche)
  3. Arthur (Dorothy)
  4. Arthur (Dorothy)
  5. Three
  6. Lanai
  7. Called the fan
  8. Gloria
  9. Leo
  10. Salvadore
the-golden-girls-trivia-and-fun-facts-for-devoted-fans-only

Rose Nylund: Betty White

Seasoned actor Betty White played the role of Rose, a simpleton who exuded kindness and had a knack for telling the zaniest stories of her life in Saint Olaf. White has been in the entertainment industry for over 80 years. She got her start in radio. She is regarded as a pioneer of television. White was one of the first women to exert control in front of and behind the camera and is recognized as the first woman to produce a sitcom.

White has had a lifelong passion for animals and wildlife. She originally wanted to be a park ranger, but at the time women were not able to do so. She turned her talents initially to writing which in turn brought her to the entertainment industry.

During World War II, she served in the Woman's Voluntary Service. Her duties included driving military equipment from one location to another. She also spent time entertaining the troops who were about to be shipped out.

While trying to get ahead in the entertainment business, she would take any job she could get, including crowd noise, voice overs, and bit parts. She was usually paid about five dollars but she also did some work for free to gain exposure and build her credentials.

In the 1960s, White found it more challenging to find work. She joined the game show circuit where she became a popular staple. It was during that time that she met and wed game show host Allen Ludden. She did turn down one offer, which would have put her career on a different, yet equally amazing path. She was offered an anchor position on the Today Show. She turned it down because she did not want to live in New York. The position eventually went to Barbara Walters, who became the first female national news anchor.

White's career exploded in the 70s and continued higher from there with her playing supporting and lead roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mama's Family, Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, and well as guest appearances on many top shows of the time.

White would go out and smile and chat with the audience and literally go and make friends them. This especially irked her costar Bea Arthur, who would be standing in the wings waiting to perform.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. The show was inspired by a skit that featured...
    • Carol Channing
    • Doris Roberts
    • Cloris Leachman
    • Estelle Getty
  2. On the show, they lived in Miami but the exterior house shots are of a home in...
    • Tampa
    • Orlando
    • Key West
    • Los Angeles
  3. What is Rose's dead husbands name?
    • Edgar
    • Maurice
    • Charlie
    • Edward
  4. Rose's mother...
    • Was an army nurse
    • Died in child birth
    • Worked as a cheese inspector
    • Never ventures outside of Saint Olaf
  5. Rose's father was...
    • A musician
    • A door to door salesman
    • A bus driver
    • A monk
  6. In High School Rose was voted most likely to...
    • Succeed
    • Get stuck in a tuba
    • Marry young
    • Reinvent the wheel
  7. How did Rose's husband die?
    • Heart attack during sex
    • Run over by stampeding sheep
    • Lost at sea
    • Car crash
  8. How many children does Rose have?
    • One
    • Three
    • Five
    • None
  9. What hobby does Rose have?
    • Cheese making
    • Stamp collecting
    • Viking history
    • All of the above
  10. Rose speaks...
    • Only English
    • Norwegian and English
    • Danish and English
    • Swedish and English

Answer Key

  1. Doris Roberts
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Charlie
  4. Died in child birth
  5. A monk
  6. Get stuck in a tuba
  7. Heart attack during sex
  8. Five
  9. All of the above
  10. Norwegian and English
the-golden-girls-trivia-and-fun-facts-for-devoted-fans-only

Sophia Petrillo: Estelle Getty

Estelle Getty played Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy's mother. Getty was the least established of the group and was highly intimidated by her co-stars' collective fame. Getty worked as a secretary so she would have time available for auditions, but was highly doubtful she would make it in acting. She had severe stage fright which sometimes caused her to freeze up during the filming. Her quick wit, timing, and caustic comments, however, soon made her the favorite character on the show.

The character of Sophia was only supposed to be a recurring one, but the test audience loved her character and the scripts were rewritten to include her as part of the main cast.

Despite being younger than Bea Arthur, Getty was successful in convincing audiences that she was Dorothy's mother. She spent over three hours with the make-up team each episode, and as her make-up came into place, she transformed into the character. Between the first and second seasons, Getty got a facelift, which caused a great deal of frustration for the make-up team as it meant they needed to spend even more time to prepare her for the camera.

Getty was heavily involved in HIV/AIDS activism; she had lost close friends and family to the disease. She helped to open a hospice for AIDS patients in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Queen invited the stars of the show to perform live in London. The Girls reenacted two of their kitchen table scenes (with a bit of censoring). One line that was left intact was Sophia’s interjection to Dorothy’s question to Blanche about how long she had waited to have sex again after her husband had died. The then-88-year-old Queen Mum was spotted in the Royal Box chuckling heartily at Sophia’s response: “Until the paramedics came.”

Getty had a strong fear of death, to the point that she avoided making jokes about death whenever possible. She was uncomfortable when the show brought up the subject. She was also sensitive to making any gay jokes. Her character, however, made these jokes on a regular basis.

In the final seasons, Getty began showing signs of dementia, which quickly took over after the show ended. Her co-stars recalled having difficulty trying to hold conversations with her post-show. They were greatly saddened when she died of dementia with Lewy bodies in 2008.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. When Getty first received her script she thought she was offered the part of...
    • Sophia
    • Rose
    • Blanche
    • Dorothy
  2. What did Estelle Getty often do to/with the gay writers working on the show?
    • Made them eat cheesecake
    • Ignored them
    • Asked them for fashion advice
    • Set them up on blind dates
  3. What was the name of the nursing home Sophia lived at prior to moving in?
    • Shady Pines
    • Shady Willows
    • Sandy Palms
    • La Boca Vista
  4. How many times was Sophia married?
    • One
    • Two
    • Three
    • Four
  5. Where was Sophia born?
    • Rome
    • Naples
    • Palermo
    • Florence
  6. Sophia claims to have had a romantic tryst with...
    • Sigmund Freud
    • Pablo Picasso
    • Winston Churchill
    • All of the above

Answer Key

  1. Dorothy
  2. Set them up on blind dates
  3. Shady Pines
  4. Three
  5. Palermo
  6. All of the above

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© 2021 Dr John Bridges

Comments

Dr John Bridges (author) from Portland, OR on February 10, 2021:

Rachelle, I am so happy you liked it. To answer your question, it means you are a top fan...for me it means I need to up my game. Be sure to check out some of the other shows I have covered; Frasier, Seinfeld, My Name is Earl, Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad, Home Improvement, Raising Hope, The Office, and King of Queens. If oy do equally well on all of them, then it may be that you should be writing these trivia articles and not me. Thanks again for you comment and enthusiasm. JB

Rachelle Williams from Tempe, AZ on February 10, 2021:

That was awesome! What does it say about me that I got the majority of the trivia questions right? LOL!

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