Rue McClanahan, best known for her roles in Mama’s Family, Maude, and The Golden Girls has died in the New York Presbyterian Hospital this morning at 1:oo A.M EST, following a stroke she had suffered two days earlier. She was 76 years old.
McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, OK on February 21, 1934. She was an alumnus of the University of Tulsa, where she majored in German and a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She began her career in 1957 appearing in off-broadway productions. She debut on the Great White Way twelve years later portraying Sally Weber in the musical Jimmy Shine with Dustin Hoffman. Rue’s first major television role was on NBC’s soap Another World as caretaker Caroline Johnson. In her role, she took care of fraternal twins, fell in love with John Randolph, and poisoned the matriarch Pat. Her role lasted fourteen months.
Before The Golden Girls, she worked with fellow golden girl Bea Arthur as best friend Vivian Harmon in the CBS sitcom Maude. In 1985, Rue took on a role that would change her life. She played Blanche Deveraux, a Southern belle who would do anything to get a man. Devreaux along with Dorothy Zbornak (Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), & Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) would make up the TV family of The Golden Girls. McClanahan won the primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Comedy in 1987. She went on to reprise the role in the short-lived spinoff The Golden Palace in 1993. which lasted a single season.
Rue would later appeared in the films The Fighting Temptations and Starship Troopers. She went back to broadway in 2005 to play Madame Morrible in the hit musical Wicked. Although general reviews were mixed, she received high praise from the New York Times. Her final acting role was in the cable series Sordid Lives on the Logo Network in the summer of 2008, Peggy Ingram, the older sister of Sissy Hickey.
From all of us, thank you Rue for being our friend!