Thursday, June 3, 2010
Rue McClahanan: Golden Girl
Today, I am particularly saddened to hear about the death of my favorite Golden Girl: Rue McClanahan.
While Rue was a multi-talented actress with an IMDB credit list that goes on forever, she is most well known for that classic television show, THE GOLDEN GIRLS. During my college years, every day I had a break from about 10 to 11 AM where I would grab some breakfast from the Student Center, make my way to my dorm room and hunker down to watch reruns of this wonderful show. I loved this sitcom for so many reasons. It was always entertaining, dependably funny and occasionally incredibly poignant. What a treat it was to see a hit show, starring four women who were considerably over the age of 30...beating the odds in a medium that had always been youth-obsessed.
While I loved Rose and Sophia and Dorothy, Blanche Deveraux (played by Rue) had my heart. I always loved Tennessee Williams; and Blanche was perhaps a character that Williams would have written had he taken a steady dosage of Prozac. Determined, adventurous and funny, she was an older woman who was more sexually voracious than any teenager. Even when insufferably self-absorbed, she was always a good friend to her roomies. The stuff of television fantasy? Sure. But television fantasy at its best.
Quite a few years ago, I rubbed shoulders with Rue at The Players here in NYC. She would attend poetry readings, speak at events and perform in readings. Like so many millions of others, I approached her the first evening I saw her at the club and told her what a fan I was of her work. She was gracious and thanked me. When I later heard from a close source that she stopped going to the club because she was tired of always being bothered by fans, I felt appropriately chastened for not just leaving the poor woman alone.
Still, I wish I could have known her better. Having read her autobiography, “My First Five Husbands…and the Ones Who Got Away,” I knew that she was a woman of grace, tenacity and humor. I would encourage you all to read this book as it shows how much more Rue was than just that Southern Belle with the biting humor and raging libido. She was also a great actress and a wonderful lady.
Rue…I’ll miss you.