Rue McClanahan, Golden Girls star, died 1 a.m. Thursday morning of a massive stroke at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Barbara Lawrence, her manager, said she was surrounded by family. She was 76 years old.
McClanahan started her career in 1957, Off-Broadway. Soon after, in 1969, she made her Broadway debut as Sally Weber in the musical Jimmy Shine alongside Dustin Hoffman.
A few years later, she began appearing on television in shows such as, Another World (1964) and Where the Heart Is (1969). From 1972-1978, McClanahan played Vivian Harmon in Maude with Bea Arthur.
She and Arthur soon found themselves on Golden Girls with Betty White and Estelle Getty seven years later. McClanahan would become very well-known for her role on this show as the southern belle, Blanche Devereaux, the man-crazy woman who owned the home they lived in.
The show ran for seven years, during which she earned an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” in 1987. She also won a Golden Apple Award as well as two TV Land Awards for her time as Ms. Devereaux.
After the The Golden Girls, McClanahan, White, and Getty spent a season on the spinoff The Golden Palace, then she went back to Broadway.
In 1997, she beat breast cancer, but in 2009, had to undergo heart-bypass surgery. In January of this year, she suffered a stroke.
Rue McClanahan will always be remembered as the young spitfire of The Golden Girls.