• July 19, 2024

This is a really terrific interview of Rue McClanahan.

Rue McClanahan (born February 21, 1934 – died June 3, 2010) was an American actress born in Healdton, Oklahoma. McClanahan was a frequent television performer and Broadway star during the 1960s. After a role in one episode of All in the Family in 1971, producer Norman Lear cast McClanahan as Vivian Harmon in Maude (1972-78) alongside her future The Golden Girls castmate Bea Arthur.

Rue McClanahan with Vicki Lawrence and Betty White in Mama’s Family

McClanahan is best known for her role as the saucy, sharp southern belle, Blanche Devereaux, in The Golden Girls which began in 1985. She once again worked with Bea Arthur and Betty White, as well as Estelle Getty. All four of the women won Emmy awards for their roles in the series, Rue in 1987. After Bea Arthur left the show after seven seasons, McClanahan, White and Getty returned for a brief spin-off in The Golden Palace (1992).


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Eddi-Rue McClanahan was her full first or birth name given to her by her parents, of course. However, Rue dropped Eddi officially and legally just shortly after graduating from The University of Tulsa at age 21. Rue earned a Bachelor’s in Arts, was a distinguished member of The National Honor Society, and was also the vice president of The Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. The reason being: She was called by someone as Eddi, and was mistaken as a male.

Rue McClanahan also co-starred with another future Golden Girl in the series Mama’s Family. McClanahan’s character Aunt Fran was a fixture of the first two seasons of the show, starting in 1982, though the character was killed off after the show was cancelled by NBC in 1984 and subsequently renewed in syndication. Betty White played Ellen Jackson, Fran’s niece, on the first three seasons of the series.

Similarly to Blanche, Rue McClanahan rushed through relationships to get married and hitched, going through five failed marriages with all five ex-husbands and painful lawsuits with two of her ex-husbands. Moreover, Rue was in an average of one to two years of marriage. Rue’s third marriage was for just shy of seven years with a belligerent man who was emotionally abusive towards Rue as well as towards her one and only child, Mark. Honestly, the feel of self-sabotaging was very much real. Rue’s fifth marriage was to her high-school sweetheart and her fifth ex-husband, Tom Keel. Their marriage ended abruptly in the year of 1986, just into the second season of The Golden Girls. Keel and Rue were only married for less than one year from 1985 to 1986. Keel sued Rue McClanahan upon their divorce settlement in 1986 for her Golden Girls money, and won a fair share of it.


Rue McClanahan with Bea Arthur on the CBS-TV series Maude

Nevertheless, through The Golden Girls run from 1985 to 1992, Rue McClanahan learned a lot about herself. Rue mentioned,

“Art imitates life. Life imitates arts. Blanche’s impenetrable confidence eventually wore off me as well. I learned a lot from Blanche and her optimism and joie de vivre — feeling confident about what you have to offer the world, and the ability to bounce back from life’s momentary failures. Blanche Devereaux is a masterful rebounder, never down for the count, always back up to fight again — to look again on the bright side. I loved that about her.” (Farrell, O’Connor, Powell, 2018).[1]

Upon the release of the series, Rue had put a clause in her contract that allowed her to keep every single clothing piece, jewelry, accessory that the character of Blanche wore. As per Blanche’s massively flaunty, body-hugging, and feministic wardrobe of style as well as the many, luxurious, and slinky nightgowns that Blanche wore, and as many Golden Girls’ fans often called “Deverobes”, Rue McClanahan was in the same sense of style in her actual life. McClanahan often resorted to an incredibly tasteful and sensual clothing that screamed out, “Look at me”. Reportedly, through the whole seven seasons of The Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan took home about a total of 500 of Blanche’s outfits, fitting in a whooping eleven full-sized walk-in closets in her estate in the Los Angeles’ The San Fernando Valley in Southern California at the time in the early 1990s.

Furthermore, McClanahan decided to run a small gig on the side of a Blanche-inspired clothing line that she named initially as “Very Rue”, which McClanahan changed to officially as “A Touch of Rue”. McClanahan’s concept of her Blanche-inspired clothing line of “A Touch of Rue” was to cater to women in their 40s and 50s to still look absolutely stunning and feel young just like Blanche Devereaux did in The Golden Girls with such sensual style. As per Rue McClanahan, her line is “wearable in real life and available at affordable prices. This Touch of Rue garment may make you even more irresistible. We assume no responsibility for remarkable results.”[2]

After The Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan continued to work regularly, primarily in television, with guest roles on series such as Touched by an AngelKing of the Hill and Law & Order. Her final role as a series regular was in Sordid Lives (2008) on the Logo network, as Peggy Ingram, the older sister of Sissy Hickey and mother of Latrelle, LaVonda and Earl “Brother Boy”. Her autobiography, My First Five Husbands … and the Ones Who Got Away, was published in 2007. McClanahan also spent her time joining and helping organizations against cancer, AIDS, and cruelty against animals. She died on June 3, 2010, after a stroke.


A few tidbits regarding McClanahan’s passing: Her passing was quite tragic and devastatingly sad yet peaceful and painless. To send our regards and respects to this most beloved television legend and celebrity, we would like to make notice as to how McClanahan passed away because the information is quite pertinent for fans to grasp and understand.

As per The Golden Girls Hollywood Special Collector’s magazine article: on Memorial Day in May 2010 (May 31st, 2010, at the time), McClanahan was found in her 56th Avenue penthouse condo in Uptown Manhattan, New York City, by her good friend, Michael LaRue. Out of nowhere, McClanahan slumped to the floor in her New York apartment, suffering a massive yet painless stroke that took her life that day on Memorial Day, May 31st, 2010. LaRue caught McClanahan before she could hit the floor and held onto her during her last, few minutes, calling 911 frantically. He remained genuinely and steadfastly by her side at the last, few minutes of her life up till her passing that evening on Memorial Day, May 31st, 2010.

Upon the ambulance rushing and arriving to New York Presbyterian Medical Center, McClanahan was pronounced “brain-dead” by medical physicians and experts on-site. McClanahan was maintained on a ventilator and life support by the time of arrival to the trauma hospital. Nevertheless, McClanahan was practically pronounced dead upon arrival that day on May 31st, 2010 at New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Given that McClanahan was under medical attention, on a ventilator, and on life support, then maintained on the devices for the next 3 days in striving hopes for a miracle, McClanahan’s one and only biological son, Mark Bish, decided to remove his mother off the devices. When removed off the devices, it was pronounced medically and legally of Rue’s passing to be on June 3rd, 2010 early morning at around 1:00AM E.S.T. in New York Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.[3]

Medically and legally, Rue passed away early morning on June 3rd, 2010. Naturally, she passed away on May 31st, 2010. Rue’s family was around her since their arrival at New York Presbyterian Medical Center through it al; — her sixth husband Charles Morrow Wilson, her one and only son Mark Bish, her one and only sister Dr. Melinda L. McClanahan, and her close friend Michael LaRue.[1]

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Rue released her semi-raunchy autobiography, “My First Five Husbands… And The Ones Who Got Away” in the year of 2007. This is her on the release night in 2007 at a book-signing in New York City.

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