Golden Girl Rue McClanahan dies at 76

Rue McClanahan Rue McClanahan's character was known for her romances

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US actress Rue McClanahan, star of TV show The Golden Girls, has died following a stroke at the age of 76, her manager has announced.

The award-winning performer played feisty Southern belle Blanche in the popular series.

McClanahan, who underwent heart bypass surgery last year, is the third of the main cast members to pass away.

Only Betty White remains, following the deaths of Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur, who died in 2008 and 2009.

Drag queen mother

White, 88, recently hosted Saturday Night Live, and fans are lobbying for her to present next year's Academy Awards.

"I treasured our relationship," she said. "It hurts more than I ever thought it would, if that's even possible."

McClanahan had a varied stage career before landing the role of Blanche Devereaux in 1985 when The Golden Girls hit the small screen.

The actress said of her seductive character: "She is in love with life and loves men.

"I think she has an attitude towards women that's competitive. I think basically she's insecure."

The Golden Girls Betty White (r) is now the sole surviving Golden Girl

Blanche always referred to her father as "Big Daddy" and was the perpetual target of her housemates.

McClanahan won an Emmy for her role in 1987.

Five years later, after The Golden Girls ended, she co-starred alongside White and Getty in a short-lived spin-off called Golden Palace.

Earlier in her career, she had appeared with Arthur in the 1970s sitcom Maude as her best friend and sidekick.

In later years, she continued to appear on TV and on stage, playing the elderly mother of a drag queen in 2008 serial Sordid Lives, which included the filming of a sex scene.

The actress was recovering from knee surgery at the time, but still hung onto a window sill when the bed she was using broke.

McClanahan, who was born in Oklahoma, married six times and wrote a memoir in 2007 entitled My First Five Husbands... And The Ones Who Got Away.

I met Rue McClanahan many times in Austin, Texas where her son lived. I managed a restaurant called Zoot that was a favourite of hers. In person she was the most engaging of women. She always called to make her own reservation. She met each member of the staff and remembered each of them in the friendliest fashion. She enjoyed her fans and would happily discuss Maude or The Golden Girls and anyone's favourite episode. She was gracious and beautiful, freckled and flirtatious, and I am very sad at her passing. More important to note was her genuine warmth and openness that distinguished her in real life. She was lovely and I am lucky to have known her.

Jon Mansfield, New Orleans, Louisiana

First of all I would like to say that the Golden Girls is my favourite sitcom ever and I'm very sad about the passing. I feel like I knew them and I never met them. The one thing I loved about Rue (Blanche) was her self confidence. She was so funny. They all were hilarious and they will be missed very much. She was an original and I will never forget her or any of the others. They will always be in my heart because I feel like I have lost part of the family. Goodbye Rue, Bea, and Estelle I'll miss you very much. Betty you hang on in there ok.

Detra C. Edwards, Mount Airy, North Carolina, USA

I never met her, yet felt at times she was some how part of the family, a familiar face, who made me laugh. I first saw her on Maude, with Bea Arthur, and The Golden Girls will be forever a magic moment treasured by myself, and all those who loved the magic they made so well. God bless Bea, Estelle, and now Rue, and all my love to Betty White, as you are all in my prayers.

Dan de Lench, Vancouver, Canada

Thank you Rue for all those years of laughter! I even had a lumbar puncture in hospital once while watching the Golden Girls - the doctor found it so funny and wanted the TV left on!! I have a photo signed by Rue, have had it on my wall for at least 15 years!! Thank you for helping me through so many difficult times by making me laugh! God Bless you Rue.

Warren O'Connell, Paris, France

Rue was a breath of fresh air. I loved watching The Golden Girls and their re-runs. She will be shining her star from heaven and winking at us on Earth.

Elaine Rowland, Yukon, Oklahoma, USA

I've been a fan of Ms McClanahan for many years, from the time she was on "Mama's Family" up until she was on "The Golden Girls". My mom and I always made time for "The Golden Girls" every Saturday night. Being a southern belle myself, watching Blanche's spunk and enthusiasm for life always brought many laughs. Thank you for the laughter and rest in peace, Rue.

Connie, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

I am so sad to hear there is only now one remaining member of the Golden Girls. I will always remember it as the show that I watched with my gran on Friday nights when I stayed. I thought it was brill, even at the age of 10 to 14 I looked forward to it coming on!

Elaine, Paisley, UK

I have loved the Golden Girls for years and own them all on dvd. I still watch them. Rue was a true dame. Funny witty and beautiful. She brought the best out of blanche like no one else could have, no one else ever will. The "Delirium" scene was hilarious! I looked on her, on them, as personal friends and she will be sadly missed. RIP.

Rob Weston, Doncaster, UK

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Miami Herald Rue McClanahan | Played Blanche on 'Golden Girls' - 21 hrs ago Rue McClanahan obituary - 22 hrs ago Golden Girl Rue McClanahan dies of stroke aged 76 - 24 hrs ago
Washington PostRue McClanahan, 'Golden Girl' Blanche, dies in NY - 25 hrs ago
Sky News Golden Girl Rue McClanahan Dies - 27 hrs ago
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