This morning the world awoke to the sad news that former The Golden Girls actress Rue McClanahan had passed. Known for playing the sensationally sexy Blanche Devereaux for seven seasons, the 76-year-old suffered a stroke overnight. Her publicist told People magazine that Rue “had her family with her. She went in peace.”
Throughout her Emmy-winning career on TV and Broadway, Rue was a supporter of the gay community. In 1971, she appeared in the early gay film Some of My Best Friends Are… Her last role was in the 2008 comedy series Sordid Lives as the matriarch to crazy Texas clan on Logo. But it was her iconic role as the Blanche, the unapologetic man-eater of a certain age, that made her universally adored by gay men and women alike. At a Paley Center panel in 2006, Rue spoke about her character’s appeal to the gay community.
Rue’s passing follows the deaths of her former castmates Bea Arthur (Dorothy) and Estelle Getty (Sophia) last year. Someone put Betty White under 24-hour surveillance because I cannot imagine a world without a single Golden Girl.
As Blanche, Rue paves the way for countless other saucy, salacious sexpots including Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones. She made the golden years seem sexy, something almost unheard of on television before. With that charming, unmistakable Southern drawl, she said — and did — the things we all dream about. But it was always her humanity and humor that made Blanche so beloved.
Here is a compilation of some of her most memorable moments.
And here is one of my favorite moments. Blanche sure loves the Lebanese.
Logo is going to marathon the entire series of Sordid Lives from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 6. Until then grab some cheesecake and share your favorite Rue and Blanche moments in the comments below. And, because it must be said, thank you for being a friend, Rue.