The Golden Girls remains one of the best-loved sitcoms in history. Picture: AP
The Golden Girls remains one of the best-loved sitcoms in history. Picture: AP

Inside story of infamous TV feud

Ten years ago today, the beloved Golden Girl portrayed by Bea Arthur left this earth - leaving us with lots of joyful memories and tons of laughter. She also left us with some rumours about secret feuds and long faces among co-stars.

"You know, I'm always being asked the question if my mum hated Betty White," Matthew Saks, Bea Arthur's 57-year-old son, recently told Fox News. "It's not the way it is. I think my mum had some problems with her, but she liked her.

"I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said it's fun to hate your neighbours," he went on. "And I think what he meant was that everyone needs someone to say, 'Oh, here she goes!' We all need to have somebody that we can let get under our skin."

aks added the two women also had completely different styles of acting. The Golden Girls co-star Rue McClanahan explained it like this back in 2009:

"Bea came from a New York stage point of view. She always had what we call 'the fourth wall.' And Betty came from a television point of view. She would flirt with the audience, and pull up her skirt and say, 'Hi, sailor.' But Bea never acknowledged the audience," McClanahan said.

To the world, Bea Arthur was a towering figure with great comedic wit delivered by her signature husky voice. She embodied the strong-willed, fiercely independent Maude Findlay in the groundbreaking sitcom Maude, which aired from 1972 until 1978. She then transformed into no-nonsense, sharp-tongued Dorothy Zbornak in "The Golden Girls" from 1985 until 1992.

But to Saks, Arthur wasn't just mum - she was a woman who found joy on stage.

"Since I can remember, my mother was an actress," he explained. "I literally went - when I was 3 years old - on the road with her. She was opening Fiddler on the Roof so I had to go with her. I spent a lot of time in her dressing room. There was a speaker system and you could listen to the entire play while you're in that dressing room. So I knew her plays, front to back. Just every part of them."

But Arthur wasn't fazed by the fame she achieved in Hollywood. Rather than spotted at glitzy soirees, she preferred the comfort of home with her trusted confidantes.

"I do remember Rock Hudson being in my mum's home," said Saks. " … Rock had dinner there and then he cleared the table. I was trying to clear the table, but I was not good with all the dishes. He just stacked them up to his arm and told me I was a rookie. And that lucky for him, he had been a waiter at one point."

"My mother had close relationships with a few close friends," continued Saks. "She wasn't a loner. But she really liked sitting around and chilling, as people say. I can't do that. If I just look out the window, I realise I need to do something. She would wake up in the morning, have a coffee and read the LA Times and The New York Times. That was fun for her."

According to Saks, life at home was normal, one that involved doing chores. But there were perks to being Arthur's son. Like the time he was cast as a cop on an episode of "The Golden Girls." But Saks is aware there have been some misconceptions about Arthur's relationship with her castmates, specifically White, who played naive Rose Nylund from St. Olaf.


Arthur still performed in her later years — here she is on stage in Australia just a few years before her death. Picture: SUPPLIED
Arthur still performed in her later years — here she is on stage in Australia just a few years before her death. Picture: SUPPLIED

Saks also clarified Arthur later wanted out of The Golden Girls because she was ready to pursue new projects and ideas.

"I think she got tired of it," Saks admitted about the hit series. "She just thought it was time to leave the show. She wanted to leave a year before, but the others asked her to stay for a final year and she did. And then, of course, they did 'The Golden Palace' without mom on it. She came and did one episode, though. [But] I don't think she really wanted to do that. But she did. Her logic was also that these shows ran their course. Something suffers, whether it's the production, the writing. It loses its magic."


This story originally appeared on Fox News and is republished here with permission.