Thank You For Being A Friend

The world lost Rue McClanahan yesterday but Blanche Devereaux lives on. Born Edie Rue McClanahan, Rue was a stage actress in the 50’s in off-Broadway productions and made her debut on The Great White Way in 1969 opposite Dustin Hoffman in the musical “Johnny Shine”.

She then landed the role of Caroline Johnson on the soap opera Another World and her intended short-term storyline was extended to more than a year. Her next role was of Vivian Harmon, best friend to Maude Findlay played by fellow pre-Golden Girl, Bea Arthur. Rue also appeared as Aunt Fran on the Vicki Lawrence spin off from the Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, on which Betty White also appeared as uppity Ellen Harper. Then came her defining role as Blanche Devereaux, the saucy, often misguided self-centered, southern belle with a heart of gold. That role was originally intended to go to Betty White, but after having played the similar character of the happy homemaker Sue Ann Niven on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and McClanahan’s Vivian was rather scatterbrained)  the producers of the Golden Girls thought best to not typecast the two actresses and set them in their now iconic roles. It was heaven-made arrangement and hard to imagine the roles being played any other way. Rue was married six times, most recently to her current husband, Morrow Wilson and had one child, a son with her first husband, whom she divorced as she did her next four husbands.

Rue was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, suffered a minor stroke while recovering from heart bypass surgery in November 2009 and succumbed to a brain hemorrhage, yesterday Thursday, June 3. She was 76.

When asked is she was at all like her character Blanche, she once answered, “Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern Belle from Atlanta – and I’m not from Atlanta!”

“…when I say ‘men are blinded by my beauty’ they’re not really blinded. They get their sight back in a day or two!” ~ Blanche Devereaux

This is one my favorite funny moments (coincidentally with the three decesased actresses) that exemplifies the need for Blanche to be the center of attention and the object of everyone’s adoration and desire.

 

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