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How Old Were the Golden Girls (2022) Definitive Guide

The Golden Girls’ actual ages were never revealed on the classic sitcom, but die-hard fans (us included!) were able to put two and two together based on the clues left behind on each episode. 

We’ll see how our favorite Golden Girls’ on-screen ages fare against their actual ages in real life. 

Golden Girls: How Old Were They?

Golden Girls: How Old Were They 

The ages of the Golden Girls were never explicitly stated in the sitcom. However, it’s known that the show's timeline began in 1985, the same year it first aired, and each of the seven seasons took place seven years in the timeline. 

Part of the charm of the Golden Girls sitcom was the characters themselves. Older women were often stereotyped as homebodies, not much good for anything else other than baking cookies and rocking in their chairs while knitting. And while we do see Rose, Dorothy, Sophia, and Blanche bonding over their shared love for cooking -- boy, did they have wilder adventures than us! 

When Did The Show Start? 

Golden Girls is over 35 years old, having first debuted on September 14, 1985… yet it still finds a way to attract young and old audiences. In 2020 alone, Hulu reported that over 11 million hours were spent watching this sitcom, making it one of the streaming site’s top 10 most binge-watched shows. 

NBC took a risk when they first aired the program. Older women in starring roles were hardly represented in television, and the show’s executives weren’t sure how the audience would receive the quirky program. Their worries were put to rest when the show received a standing ovation at the preview screening and was immediately signed on for 12 more Golden Girls episodes

Golden Girls was critically acclaimed and a massive success. It won two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series twice and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series. All four Golden Girls cast members received Emmy awards for their performances. 

Golden Girls Main Characters 

Rose Nylund (Betty White)

Rose Nylund (Betty White)

Betty White as Rose Nylund is easily the Golden Girl we could give the most accurate age to. In the episode “Job Hunting” (Season 1, Episode 22), when sweet, naive Rose talks about losing her old job at the grief counseling center, Dorothy explicitly states that Rose’s age is 55 in season one. This makes Rose 62 at the season finale. 

In real life, the actress Betty White plays a much younger character than her actual age, which was 63 when the show first aired. If you ask us, the cast member didn’t look a day over 50! 

Also Read: What's The Most Popular Golden Girls One-Liner?

Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur)

Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur)

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornack was a substitute teacher with a stern yet beautiful heart of gold. Her actual age was never stated, but her mother, Sophia, tells Dorothy in “Nothing to Fear but Fear of Himself” (Season 3, Episode 5) about the night Dorothy was conceived in 1931. In a subsequent episode “Stan Takes a Wife” (Season 4, Episode 10), Dorothy reveals that she is a Leo. 

This gives us a safe guess as to when her birthday is. She was born in either late July or early August in 1932, making her 53 at the beginning of the series. Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy, was 63 in the first season. She was a few months younger than White. 

Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty)

Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty)

Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo is the oldest at 79 years old when the series begins. As Dorothy’s mother, she often uses her age as leverage to prove a point over the younger Golden Girls. In a flashback episode “A Piece of Cake” (Season 2, Episode 25), Sophia celebrated her 50th birthday in 1956. 

However, did you know that the actress who played Sophia was actually one year younger than Betty White and Bea Arthur (her on-screen daughter)? It took the makeup artists at least 45 minutes to age Estelle Getty into Sophia during filming! 

Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan)

Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan)

Rue McClanahan played Blanche Devereaux, a character so adamant about people not finding out her real age that she had it removed from official records. When Rose dug through files, she found out this character’s age had been “deleted by Authority of the Governor.” 

The mystery of Blanche Devereaux’s age has become sort of a running joke throughout the series, but we were able to pick up a few clues. In “End of the Curse” (Season 2, Episode 1), Blanche believes she might be pregnant and claims that she’ll be 65 by the time the child graduates high school. Assuming the child will graduate at 17, this makes Blanche 48 in 1986, and 47 at the start of the series. 

However, this assumption was thrown out of the window when “Mother’s Day” (Season 3, Episode 25) aired. Blanche’s mother confirms that she was 17 years old in 1949 as they were reminiscing over Blanche’s past dates. Considering how simply Blanche lied to her housemates about how old she was and how Sophia called her out, it’s alright to assume that she was 53 in the series pilot. 

Rue McClanahan wasn’t too far behind in terms of age; the actress was only one year younger at 52 when she started playing her character Blanche. She was the youngest Golden Girl and at least ten years younger than the other women.

Also Read: Our Favorite Golden Girls Gifts 

FAQs 

Is the cast of the Golden Girls still alive?

Sadly, none of the four Golden Girls actresses is still alive. Betty White, the actress who played Rose, died on December 31, 2021 at 99 years old. [1]

Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy, passed away in 2009 at 86 years old; Estelle Getty died in 2008 just three days before her 85th birthday (she played Sophia); and Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche, died in 2010 at 76 years old. 

Can you still watch Golden Girls today?

Yes, you can still watch Golden Girls today. All seven seasons of The Golden Girls are available for fans on Hulu Plus, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and iTunes. 

So, How Old Were The Golden Girls? 

Age is truly just a number when it comes to the lovable Golden Girls. Having fun isn’t just limited to young kids, and it’s not true that older women have it all figured out! Knowing the actual ages of the Golden Girls would give fans a different experience when re-watching the classic sitcom. 

Want Golden Girls collectibles? Check out our listings here. 

References: 

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/31/arts/television/betty-white-dead.html