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Golden Girls Off-Screen Feud: Arthur’s Alleged Disdain for White

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Clear Facts

  • Despite their on-screen camaraderie on “The Golden Girls,” Bea Arthur and Betty White reportedly had a strained relationship behind the scenes, with Arthur finding White to be “two-faced.”
  • TV writer Stan Zimmerman, who worked with both actresses, shares his insights on their relationship in his book, “The Girls: From Golden to Gilmore.”
  • Producer Marsha Posner Williams also spoke about the tension between Arthur and White, claiming that Arthur “despised” White, particularly for her habit of breaking character and interacting with the audience.

The iconic television series “The Golden Girls” portrayed a close-knit group of friends, but off-camera, the relationship between actresses Bea Arthur and Betty White was reportedly far from friendly. Arthur is said to have found White “two-faced,” according to insider accounts.

In his book “The Girls: From Golden to Gilmore,” TV writer Stan Zimmerman delves into his experiences working with the late actresses. Zimmerman, however, did not directly witness the alleged tension between the two.

“During our time on set, I never felt tension between the two,” Zimmerman writes in an excerpt published by People. “I only heard stories and recently learned, from producer Marsha Posner Williams on a podcast, that Bea thought Betty was two-faced.”

Zimmerman further elaborates on why Arthur might have held this view.

“Bea liked real people,” he says. “I had the sense that Betty was more like Sue Ann Nivens, the character she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, than she was like Rose. More conniving than the innocent airhead from St. Olaf.”

Marsha Posner Williams, a producer on the show, also spoke about the strained relationship between Arthur and White in an interview with Broadcast Beat.

“Bea Arthur despised Betty White,” Williams claimed. “As the cameras moved to the next set, Betty would break character and talk to the audience. Bea hated that. Those two couldn’t warm up to each other if they were cremated together! But when that red light went on, it was like they were best friends in the world.”

Williams added, “When you’re on a hit show and you want it to keep going, you better make nice and they did.”

Casting director Joel Thurm also shared his perspective on the podcast “The Originals.” He recalled Arthur using a derogatory term to refer to White years after the show ended.

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Thurm said Arthur was upset because White would joke with the audience about co-star Estelle Getty forgetting her lines, at a time when Getty was showing early signs of dementia.

Thurm clarified that he didn’t believe White “was intentionally making fun of Estelle, but rather trying to keep the audience laughing between takes.”

Betty White herself acknowledged the tension with Arthur.

“She was not that fond of me,” White admitted, according to the Village Voice. “She found me a pain in the neck sometimes. It was my positive attitude—and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious!”

Despite these accounts, there are also positive stories about their relationship. Co-star Rue McClanahan told the TV Academy (via E! News) that White and Arthur always ate lunch together while they were working. Arthur also once passionately defended White against a rude question from Merv Griffin when they appeared on his talk show together during the early days of “The Golden Girls.”

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

Even the most iconic television friendships can have their fair share of strife behind the scenes. The revelations in Stan Zimmerman’s book about the relationship between Bea Arthur and Betty White are a stark reminder that the individuals we see on screen are often far from their real-life personas.

While some may find it disheartening to learn that Arthur found White to be “two-faced,” it’s important to remember that these actresses were professionals who understood the importance of preserving the magic of their on-screen friendship for the millions of fans who tuned in each week.

It’s a testament to their talent that they were able to maintain their on-screen chemistry despite any personal grievances. This serves as a reminder that, in the world of entertainment, the show must always go on, and the true mark of a professional is the ability to rise above personal differences for the sake of their craft.

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In the end, the enduring popularity of “The Golden Girls” is a testament to the hard work and dedication of its cast, including both Arthur and White. Their ability to navigate their personal tensions and maintain their on-screen camaraderie is a testament to their professionalism and talent.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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