Thursday, June 03, 2010
Rue McClanahan (1934-2010)
With the passing of Rue McClanahan at the age of 76, the more-active-than-ever Betty White becomes the last survivor of the hit 1980s comedy series The Golden Girls.
Most of McClanahan's work did occur on the small screen, though she did make a handful of films and occasionally tread the boards on Broadway. Her first IMDb credit is for the 1961 film The Grass Eater. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s the native of Healdton, OK, made mostly guest shots on TV and appearances in unremarkable films. In 1970 and 1971, she snagged roles on the soap operas Another World and Love of Life.
She did get her first truly notable movie in the 1971 comedy They Might Be Giants starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. The following year, she made what is perhaps her most famous guest shot in the famous All in the Family episode "The Bunker and the Swingers."
That same year brought her breakthrough part, also opposite her later Golden Girls co-star Beatrice Arthur, in Maude as Maude's widowed friend Vivian. Following the end of Maude, she returned to the guest star circuit until landing the role of Aunt Fran on Mama's Family, the spinoff from The Carol Burnett Show skit in 1983.
Then came Blanche Devereaux. The oversexed member of The Golden Girls debuted in 1985 and lasted until 1992. She even spent a year on the short-lived spinoff Golden Palace and popped up on the other NBC Miami-set comedies Empty Nest and Nurses. The role won McClanahan an Emmy and three other nominations.
She did appear on the big screen in a movie you wouldn't expect to find her in later in her career, Starship Troopers. On Broadway, she was part of the replacement casts for the original runs of Neil Simon's California Suite and Wicked and co-starred in the 2001 revival of The Women.
R.I.P. Ms. McClanahan.