Rue McClanahan Dead at 76

The actress best known for her role as Blanche Deveraux on "The Golden Girls" has died of a stroke.

Actress Rue McClanahan, best known for her role as Blanche Deveraux on “The Golden Girls,” has died of a stroke.

Actress Rue McClanahan, who played the Golden Girl that got around, died Thursday of a massive stroke, reported.

She was 76 – a fact her alter-ego on “The Golden Girls,” the bawdy Blanche Deveraux, would never dream of divulging.

“She passed away at 1 a.m.” at New York Presbyterian Hospital, her manager, Barbara Lawrence, told the magazine.

McClanahan “had her family with her,” Lawrence added. “She went in peace.”

The Oklahoma-born daughter of a beautician and a building contractor, McClanahan was in shaky health. She suffered a minor stroke earlier this year, while recovering from bypass surgery.

The death of the scene-stealing actress leaves Betty White as the last surviving member of “The Golden Girls,” which ran on NBC from 1985 to 1992 and remains in syndication.

Last year, McClanahan’s co-star Beatrice Arthur died from cancer. The wise-cracking Estelle Getty died in 2008.

White is the midst of a career resurgence and recently hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

McClanahan launched her acting career in New York in 1957 and made her Broadway debut in 1969 in the musical “Jimmy Shine,” which starred Dustin Hoffman.

Like the Blanche Deveraux character, McClanahan was catnip to men. She was married six times and recounted her amorous adventures in her 2007 autobiography, “My First Five Husbands.”

We watched “Maude” when I was a kid, so I knew her first from that show.   Given that she played in a show about geriatrics twenty five years ago,  her passing is not terribly shocking.

That Betty White, now 88 and seemingly old when I first saw her on “Mary Tyler Moore,” is the lone survivor is somewhat interesting.  That she’s having a minor career revival after her recent Super Bowl ad is great to see.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Obituaries, Popular Culture, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. robert alex says:

    She will be deeply missed.