The Secrets Of Golden Girls: Why Bea Arthur Decided To Leave The Golden Girls!
2023/09/04

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The beloved show The Golden Girls ended because Bea Arthur decided to leave the show, but why did she exit the sitcom in the first place? The actress was among the four principal actors of the series. She played Dorothy Zbornak opposite Betty White's Rose, Rue McClanahan's Blanche, and Estelle Getty's Sophia. Unlike other sitcoms with multiple leads, The Golden Girls was a true ensemble, as each character was pivotal in the show's overall vibe. So, it was a shock when Arthur announced that she was walking away from the project, effectively setting up its end.

Debuting in 1985, The Golden Girls followed the adventures of the single middle-aged women who were living together in Miami.

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For seven seasons, the series went through their day-to-day lives, highlighting the delights and struggles of ladies their age — something that was unique and even modern during that era. That template arguably inspired future comedies like Grace and Frankie. Each character was charming and memorable in their own right: Dorothy was sarcastic and witty, Rose was a bit slow to catch up but was kind and charming, Blanche was unapologetically sexual, and Sophia was wise and frank, almost to a fault.

Throughout its run, The Golden Girls was an instant hit for critics and audiences. It tackled sensitive and controversial topics, which added to its relatability for people and made it ahead of its time.

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But, all things must come to an end. At least, that was Arthur's principle when she announced that she was retiring from her role as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls.

Why Bea Arthur Wanted The Golden Girls To End

There were several reasons behind Bea Arthur's decision; that included feeling like the writers had done everything they could with the four main characters (who almost had a fifth male housemate named Coco). According to the book Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai written by Jim Colucci, who interviewed 20 actors and crew members of the show, including Arthur, the actress felt that by the later years, the quality of the sitcom was starting to slip.

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The Golden Girls was known for its solid narratives, and she was simply no longer impressed with how the episodes were panning out, and she wanted to leave the show while it was still resonating with people.

The same tell-all also revealed that Arthur was actually offended by how much the show poked fun at her character. Colucci says that while White, Getty, and McClanahan were less phased about below-the-belt jokes regarding their characters, but their co-star ultimately struggled. Perhaps that explains Arthur not participating in a Golden Girls reunion on the 1990s sitcom Ladies Man. “Unfortunately, the things that were said about Dorothy were that she was big and ugly.

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And that wears on an actress after a while,” the author shared. Arthur's son, Matthew Saks, backed up the idea that his mother thought that "the ideas had started to run out” in a separate interview with Closer (via Cheat Sheet). But he added that aging was also part of why the actress left The Golden Girls. Arthur was around 70 years old when the sitcom ended, and it's understandable why she wanted to retire Dorothy Zbornak and slow down. After all, filming an entire season of a series composed of 25-26 episodes is no easy feat. Arthur died of lung cancer in 2009, just two and a half weeks short of her 87th birthday.

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