Rue McClanahan

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Rue McClanahan (1934-2010) talks about how she got her start in acting on the stage, and touches on some of her feature films from the 1960s. She discusses her first regular role in television, as scheming nurse "Caroline Johnson" on Another World. She recalls how, when her character tries unsuccessfully to poison the mother of the twins she is caring for, she received a fan letter recommending a better poison. She speaks in great detail about her role as "Vivian Cavender," best friend to Beatrice Arthur on the sitcom Maude. For Maude, describes her character, talks about working with the ensemble cast, and comments on memorable series episodes. McClanahan then talks about her work as series regular "Aunt Fran" on Mama's Family. Finally, she discusses at length the production of the classic 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls and her role as "Blanche Devereaux." She talks about the casting process, working with the series production personnel, and the transition of the show into The Golden Palace. Jim Colucci conducted the interview on May 4, 2006 in New York, NY.

"This was funny. These were great characters. We had a great hit on our hands, I knew it. Betty White was always astounded. She'd say, 'We got picked up for another 13!' I'd say, 'Betty, join the real world. This is a big hit.'" 

Highlights
Rue McClanahan on the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail
04:22
Rue McClanahan on guest-starring, along with Vincent Gardenia, on the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers"
05:22
Rue McClanahan on convincing Beatrice Arthur to take the role on The Golden Girls, and how the casting then fell into place
04:58
Rue McClanahan on "Blanche Devereaux's" accent and wardrobe on The Golden Girls
06:23
Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace
04:08
Rue McClanahan on how The Golden Girls impacted her career
01:07
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on when she began to perform; on her first television appearance, on The Aquanauts
16:53
On various feature films; on appearing on Burke's Law, and on appearing on Broadway; on playing "Caroline Johnson" on Another World
11:33

Chapter 2

On being dropped from the soap Another World and going on Where the Heart Is; on guest-starring, along with Vincent Gardenia, on the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers"
07:38
On being cast by Norman Lear as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude; on working with Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude; on working with Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay" on Maude
08:39
On working with the supporting cast of Maude; on her favorite Maude episodes; on how Maude reflected the times
08:17

Chapter 3

On the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail; on specific episodes of Maude; on working with producer Rod Parker on Maude, and on her favorite episodes
12:26
On the popularity of Maude and all of Norman Lear's shows; on Beatrice Arthur ending Maude, and on the series Apple Pie; on various pilots she did for Norman Lear
10:38
On appearing as "Aunt Fran" on Mama's Family; on working with the cast of Mama's Family, including Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, and Betty White; on favorite episodes of Mama's Family
06:27

Chapter 4

On first getting the script for The Golden Girls; on the switch to her playing "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls (the role originally intended for Betty White); on convincing Beatrice Arthur to take the role on The Golden Girls, and how the casting then fell into place
08:10
On working with Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls; on Golden Girls creator Susan Harris; on the show being a tough sell because they were all over 50
08:30
On "Blanche Devereaux's" accent and wardrobe on The Golden Girls; on her relationships with the cast of The Golden Girls; on Golden Girls producers Paul Witt and Tony Thomas
12:46

Chapter 5

On how the production team for The Golden Girls was different from her previous show, and having input into her character; on her favorite Golden Girls episode, “Journey to the Center of Attention”; on The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace
09:39
On how The Golden Girls impacted her career; on acting in front of an audience, and on the best advice she ever received about acting; on advice to an aspiring actor
10:45
On her proudest career achievement; on then-current projects; on her proudest life achievement
02:54
Shows

All in the Family

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Rue McClanahan on guest-starring, along with Vincent Gardenia, on the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers"
05:22

Another World

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Rue McClanahan on playing "Caroline Johnson" on Another World
03:02
Rue McClanahan on being dropped from the soap Another World and going on Where the Heart Is
02:16

Aquanauts, The aka Malibu Run

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Rue McClanahan on her first television appearance on The Aquanauts
03:26

Burke's Law

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Rue McClanahan on appearing on Burke's Law, and on appearing on Broadway
02:44

Golden Girls, The

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Rue McClanahan on first getting the script for The Golden Girls
02:39
Rue McClanahan on the switch to her playing "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls (the role originally intended for Betty White)
00:33
Rue McClanahan on convincing Beatrice Arthur to take the role on The Golden Girls, and how the casting then fell into place
04:58
Rue McClanahan on the real-life interactions of the stars of The Golden Girls
02:44
Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls
01:53
Rue McClanahan on Golden Girls creator Susan Harris
04:52
Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls being a tough sell because the main characters were all over 50
01:45
Rue McClanahan on "Blanche Devereaux's" accent and wardrobe on The Golden Girls
06:23
Rue McClanahan on Estelle Getty's difficulties remembering her lines on The Golden Girls
02:49
Rue McClanahan on her friendships with Betty White and Beatrice Arthur on The Golden Girls
02:45
Rue McClanahan on Golden Girls producers Paul Witt and Tony Thomas
00:50
Rue McClanahan on how the production team for The Golden Girls was different from her previous show, and having input into her character
02:21
Rue McClanahan on her favorite Golden Girls episode, “Journey to the Center of Attention”
03:10
Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace
04:08
Rue McClanahan on how The Golden Girls impacted her career
01:07

Golden Palace, The

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Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace
04:08

Mama's Family

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Rue McClanahan on appearing as "Aunt Fran" on Mama's Family
02:38
Rue McClanahan on working with the cast of Mama's Family, including Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, and Betty White
03:04
Rue McClanahan on favorite episodes of Mama's Family
00:45

Maude

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Rue McClanahan on being cast by Norman Lear as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
04:52
Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
01:41
Rue McClanahan on her favorite Maude episodes
03:01
Rue McClanahan on working with Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay" on Maude
02:06
Rue McClanahan on working with the supporting cast of Maude, including Adrienne Barbeau, Esther Rolle, Conrad Bain, and Hermione Baddeley
02:47
Rue McClanahan on the writers of Maude
01:37
Rue McClanahan on how Maude reflected the times
00:52
Rue McClanahan on the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail
04:22
Rue McClanahan on specific episodes of Maude
03:28
Rue McClanahan on working with producer Rod Parker on Maude, and on her favorite episodes
04:36
Rue McClanahan on the popularity of Maude and all of Norman Lear's shows
02:00
Rue McClanahan on the end of Maude, and on the series Apple Pie
06:48
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Rue McClanahan on "Blanche Devereaux's" accent and wardrobe on The Golden Girls
06:23

Classic TV series episodes

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Rue McClanahan on the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail
04:22
Rue McClanahan on the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail
04:22

First Big Break

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Rue McClanahan on being cast by Norman Lear as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
04:52

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Rue McClanahan on being cast by Norman Lear as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
04:52

Pop Culture

View Topic
Rue McClanahan on the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma," and on her fan mail
04:22
Rue McClanahan on "Blanche Devereaux's" accent and wardrobe on The Golden Girls
06:23
Professions

Actor

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Rue McClanahan on advice to an aspiring actor
00:58

Actress

View Profession
Rue McClanahan on acting in front of an audience, and on the best advice she ever got about acting
08:41

Performers

View Profession
Rue McClanahan on acting in front of an audience, and on the best advice she ever received about acting
08:41
Rue McClanahan on advice to an aspiring actor
00:58
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Rue McClanahan on guest-starring, along with Vincent Gardenia, on the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers"
05:22
Rue McClanahan on playing "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
16:56
Rue McClanahan on co-starring on Maude
21:14
Rue McClanahan on co-starring on Mama's Family
06:27
Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls
29:28
Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls, including the end of the show
10:56

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Rue McClanahan on being dropped from the soap Another World and going on Where the Heart Is
02:16
People

Beatrice Arthur

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Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
01:41
Rue McClanahan on Beatrice Arthur ending Maude, and on the series Apple Pie
06:48
Rue McClanahan on convincing Beatrice Arthur to take the role on The Golden Girls, and how the casting then fell into place
04:58
Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls
01:53
Rue McClanahan on her friendships with Betty White and Beatrice Arthur on The Golden Girls
02:45

Hermione Baddeley

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Rue McClanahan on working with the supporting cast of Maude, including Adrienne Barbeau, Esther Rolle, Conrad Bain, and Hermione Baddeley
02:47

Conrad Bain

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Rue McClanahan on working with the supporting cast of Maude, including Adrienne Barbeau, Esther Rolle, Conrad Bain, and Hermione Baddeley
02:47

Adrienne Barbeau

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Rue McClanahan on working with Adrienne Barbeau on Maude
02:47

Ken Berry

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Rue McClanahan on working with the cast of Mama's Family, including Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, and Betty White
03:04

Vincent Gardenia

View Person Page
Rue McClanahan on guest-starring, along with Vincent Gardenia, on the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers"
05:22

Estelle Getty

View Person Page
Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls
01:53
Rue McClanahan on Estelle Getty's difficulties remembering her lines on The Golden Girls
02:49

Susan Harris

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Rue McClanahan on Golden Girls creator Susan Harris
04:52

Vicki Lawrence

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Rue McClanahan on working with the cast of Mama's Family, including Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, and Betty White
03:04

Norman Lear

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Rue McClanahan on being cast by Norman Lear as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
04:52
Rue McClanahan on various pilots she did for Norman Lear
01:50

Bill Macy

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Rue McClanahan on working with Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay" on Maude
02:06

Esther Rolle

View Person Page
Rue McClanahan on working with the supporting cast of Maude, including Adrienne Barbeau, Esther Rolle, Conrad Bain, and Hermione Baddeley
02:47

Tony Thomas

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Rue McClanahan on Golden Girls producers Paul Witt and Tony Thomas
00:50

Betty White

View Interview Page
Rue McClanahan on working with the cast of Mama's Family, including Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, and Betty White
03:04
Rue McClanahan on the switch to her playing "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls (the role originally intended for Betty White)
00:33
Rue McClanahan on working with Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls
01:53
Rue McClanahan on her friendships with Betty White and Beatrice Arthur on The Golden Girls
02:45

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