Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What The Cast Of The Golden Girls Did After The Show Ended

Considering how obsessed the entertainment world is with youth and sex appeal — particularly when it comes to women — it almost seems impossible that someone once successfully pitched a sitcom about four older women sharing a home in Florida. Yet not only was "The Golden Girls" greenlit, it was a massive hit. The classic series lasted seven seasons, spawned two spin-offs, and earned its fair share of accolades, including at least one Primetime Emmy Award for each of the series' four stars

Nothing lasts forever, however, and the leading ladies of "The Golden Girls" closed their doors to visitors in 1992. Many of the actors who made the show great are no longer with us today. Still, the stories of what they did after the show ended may surprise you. Not only did one of the show's stars become a cultural icon with an unimpeachable cool factor, there are other, younger actors with recurring roles on the series who have gone on to promising careers. Want specifics? Then keep reading to learn about what the cast of "The Golden Girls" did after the beloved show ended. 

Bea Arthur never stopped giving

As the lead of "The Golden Girls," Bea Arthur's Dorothy Zbornak is often the proverbial "straight woman" of the show. She provides commentary on Blanche's seemingly bottomless libido, Rose's dim-wittedness, and her own mother's lack of decorum. Still, while she can be cynical and easily angered by her housemates, Dorothy's heart is as big and warm as that of the actress who played her. Her love for her friends and mother — flaws and all — is clear.

After "The Golden Girls" ended, Arthur continued acting, mostly on television. She had a recurring role as the titular writer's new agent on "Dave's World," and enjoyed a number of one-off spots on series like "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." She took up some more self-referential roles in the late '90s, playing herself on the sitcom "Ellen" as well as Showtime's "Beggars and Choosers." She died of lung cancer in 2009 at the age of 86. 

Six years after Arthur's passing, Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, which serves New York City's homeless LGBTQ youth, wrote in HuffPost about two of the most amazing things Arthur did in her later years. In 2005, Arthur helped put the organization on the map by raising $40,000 in a single night with a benefit performance. Shortly after her death, Siciliano was floored to learn Arthur left the center $300,000, which helped the organization survive the recession.

Betty White became an icon

She's sweet, she's competitive, she's a killer dancer, but she's not always playing with a full deck. She's Rose Nylund, played by Betty White, and she's unforgettable. Not only did White score a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Season 1 of "The Golden Girls," she went on to be nominated for that same award every year the sitcom was on the air.

White stayed busy after "The Golden Girls" ended, starting with the sequel series "The Golden Palace." That series was unfortunately canceled fairly early on, along with a number of other sitcoms White landed, like "Maybe This Time" and "Bob." Undeterred, she kept working on the big and small screens throughout the '90s and '00s, including landing recurring roles on hit series like "That '70s Show," "The Practice," and "Boston Legal." Her role as the monster-feeding Delores Bickerman in the 1999 horror film "Lake Placid" serves as  testament to her range during this period.

One thing more than any other propelled White from Hollywood star to pop culture icon as the new millennium got rolling: A Snickers ad that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl. The buzz from this hilarious commercial helped fuel a grassroots Facebook campaign that made White the oldest host on record for "Saturday Night Live." 

Rue McClanahan worked tirelessly until the end

Four years before the events of "The Golden Girls," Blanche Devereaux, played by Rue McClanahan, becomes a widow. She spends her time on the series hungry for the next love of her life, sometimes pulling in much younger suitors. Though Dorothy's mother Sophia regularly teases her about her age, McClanahan was actually the youngest of the four leads.

McClanahan and Betty White were already collaborators before "The Golden Girls" aired, having worked together on the sitcom "Mama's Family." They continued working together afterwards on "The Golden Palace." While that sequel series didn't last long, McClanahan never slowed down: She continued landing roles on TV until the year before her death. She also became an outspoken animal rights activist, notably telling 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry that he had lost her vote because he hunted pheasant

The last decade of McClanahan's life was a turbulent one, in terms of her health. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, but was able to recover from the illness. She went on to survive a stroke in 2009, but succumbed to a second one in June 2010 at the age of 76.

Estelle Getty made Sophia unforgettable

In real life, Estelle Getty was actually a year younger than co-star Bea Arthur. But on "The Golden Girls," she plays the eldest of the four lead characters, Dorothy's mother Sophia. When her retirement home burns down, Sophia is forced to move in with her daughter. For seven seasons, she regales her roommates with tales of Sicily that always begin with an unforgettable preamble: "Picture it! Sicily!" She suffers no fools, suffers no filter between brain and mouth, and spares her daughter no clever insults.

Getty occupied her signature role more times than any of the series' other leads. Along with reprising the role in "The Golden Palace," in which Sophia joins Blanche and Rose in opening a hotel, Getty plays Sophia in episodes of "Empty Nest," "Nurses," and even "Blossom." That's not the only part Getty played during this era, however: During the last year of the sitcom that started it all, she co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in the buddy cop comedy "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot." 

While Getty continued to work until 2001, she was diagnosed with the progressive brain disease Lewy body dementia in 2000, and her declining health forced her into retirement. She died in July 2008, three days shy of what would have been her 85th birthday.

We lost Herb Edelman shortly after The Golden Girls ended

Of the four leads of "The Golden Girls," Dorothy is the only one who isn't a widow ... though she probably often wishes she was. Instead, Dorothy is divorced. Until the very end of the series, we're treated to regular visits from her ex-husband Stanley, played by Herb Edelman. In spite of his history of infidelity and stinginess, and the long list of women — including Dorothy's mother and his own — who refer to him as a "yutz," Stanley regularly tries to woo Dorothy back into his life, including in the series finale. 

While Edelman was a familiar character actor for decades before "The Golden Girls," Dorothy's sleazy ex is the role for which he's most often remembered. This isn't a surprise, as it's also the one for which he earned two Primetime Emmy nominations. Fans of the crime drama "Murder, She Wrote" will also remember him as Jessica Fletcher's friend and colleague NYPD Lieutenant Artie Gelber, a role he played shortly after "The Golden Girls" ended.

While Edelman continued to work after "The Golden Girls," he didn't get the chance to add many more credits to his resume: Edelman died in July 1996 from emphysema. He was 62 years old.

Harold Gould chased Rose and his dreams

The only "Golden Girls" suitor seen nearly as often as Dorothy's ex-husband is Miles Webber, Rose's boyfriend, played by Harold Gould. In fact, Gould plays a different character, Arnie Petersen, in Season 1's "Rose the Prude." Miles' romance doesn't stop with the end of "The Golden Girls," either: Gould reprises the role in the sequel sitcom "The Golden Palace." 

Gould was already an immensely recognizable character actor years before "The Golden Girls" aired. To older audiences, he was best known as Rhoda's father Martin Morgenstern on both "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda." Moreover, he popped up on the big screen from time to time: In perhaps his most memorable film role, he plays the con man Kid Twist in 1973's "The Sting." 

Gould died from prostate cancer in September 2010 at the age of 86. He kept working right up until the end: Between the finale of "The Golden Girls" and his passing, he appeared in films like "Patch Adams," "Stuart Little," and "Freaky Friday," along with numerous TV appearances. His final screen appearance was in a 2010 episode of the medical drama "Nip/Tuck." 

Bill Dana was a giant of comedy

Starting with Season 3's "My Brother, My Father," comedian and screenwriter Bill Dana plays the recurring role of Sophia's brother, Angelo. Believing him to be a priest, Sophia coerces Dorothy and her ex-husband Stan into pretending they're still together for the duration of Angelo's visit, only to learn Angelo never became a priest at all. Angelo eventually moves to Miami and he makes five more appearances before the end of the series. 

Long before "The Golden Girls" debuted, Dana contributed mightily to the small and big screens. He was most famous for playing silly elevator operator Jose Jimenez on "The Danny Thomas Show" and his own sitcom, "The Bill Dana Show." He was also a celebrated screenwriter, responsible for numerous episodes of the classic spy comedy "Get Smart." Notably, Dana wrote arguably the most well-remembered episode of "All in the Family," "Sammy's Visit," in which Sammy Davis, Jr. famously plants a kiss on Archie Bunker's cheek.

Dana left screen acting behind after the mid-'90s, though the entertainment world was still extremely important to him. Dana helped found Emerson College's American Comedy Archives in 2005 with the goal of "collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary source materials" regarding the history of America's professional laugh-makers.

Dana died at his home in 2017. He was 92 years old. 

Sid Melton made TV his home

Sophia's beloved husband Salvadore dies long before the events of "The Golden Girls," but death can't stop him from showing up on TV. Sid Melton appears as the lost love in flashbacks throughout the series, in addition to a one-off role as Don the Fool in Season 6's "What a Difference a Date Makes." 

Leaving behind the character of Sal Petrillo didn't mean the end of acting for Melton, or even the end of his time in the universe of "The Golden Girls." Melton went on to appear in the spin-off series "Nurses" and "Empty Nest," along with brief appearances in other series like "Blossom" and "Dave's World." His final screen appearance was as Eddie in a film Melton himself directed, 1999's " ... And Call Me in the Morning." 

Melton had a rich history in Hollywood long before "The Golden Girls." Beginning his screen-acting career in the early '40s, Melton made one of his biggest splashes as sidekick Ichabod Mudd on the classic '50s children's show "Captain Midnight." He went on to appear in numerous TV shows over the years, including "The Danny Thomas Show," "Peter Gunn," "The Munsters," "Love, American Style," and dozens more.

Melton passed away from pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 94.

Lynnie Greene went behind the camera

The digital de-aging that's become commonplace in modern TV and films wasn't available when "The Golden Girls" was on the air. When it came time to tell stories from Dorothy Zbornak's early days, the sitcom fell back on something a little more old school — they cast a younger actress. Starting with Season 2's "A Piece of Cake," Lynnie Greene plays the younger version of Bea Arthur's character, Dorothy.

Relative to a lot of other "Golden Girls" cast members, Greene's list of screen-acting credits isn't very long. In fact, her only role following "The Golden Girls" was a one-off appearance on the short-lived CBS sitcom "The 5 Mrs. Buchanans."

But stepping away from the spotlight didn't mean leaving entertainment altogether for Greene. In the late '90s, Greene switched gears to working behind the camera. This was a good decision: As a writer and producer, she's worked on some of the most successful TV series of the last few decades. Her credits include "JAG," "Nip/Tuck," "Masters of Sex," and the Epix mystery drama "The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair."

Nancy Walker was a familiar face for generations

Nancy Walker only appeared twice on "The Golden Girls," but fans of the sitcom remember her fondly. She plays Angela, Sophia's sister, in Season 2's "The Sisters." In this episode, Dorothy invites her over to surprise her mother, only to discover the two haven't spoken in decades, due to imagined slights. Later, in "Long Day's Journey Into Marinara," Angela appears again when Sophia is convinced she's trying to poach her boyfriend.

The two roles for which Walker was best known arrived long before "The Golden Girls." To one generation of TV viewers, Walker is best known as Ida, mother to Valerie Harper's Rhoda, on both "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the spin-off "Rhoda." Between 1970 and 1990, however, Walker became known to audiences as the diner waitress in the Bounty paper towel ads who popularized the slogan, "the quicker picker-upper."

Notably, Walker's stint as Angela helped her land her next regular TV role: Susan Harris, co-creator of "The Golden Girls," cast Walker As Molly McCaskey on the short-lived "Mama's Boy." Walker went on to play Sara Bower on the Fox sitcom "True Colors," which proved to be her last series. Less than a month before the final episode of "True Colors" aired, Walker died of lung cancer at the age of 69.