Rue McClanahan dies of massive stroke

Posted on 03 Jun 2010 at 10:16am
Rue McClanahan and me
Rue McClanahan and me

Rue McClanahan died at 1 a.m. Thursday of a massive stroke.

She had bypass surgery last fall and was also a breast cancer survivor.

The former Golden Girl was in Dallas last September with Del Shores to perform a stand-up comedy show. She called her portion “sit-down” comedy.

I interviewed McClanahan by phone and was told I’d have 30 minutes. After an hour, she asked if she could run to the bathroom and then call me back. We spoke for another hour.

While on the phone with her, we recalled our favorite “Golden Girls” and “Maude” episodes. We recited lines to each other and laughed for an hour.

Her favorite “Golden Girls” episode was the one in which Dorothy’s friend Jean comes to visit. Jean is a lesbian and falls for Rose. After Blanche realizes what’s going on (“Lesbian? Danny Thomas is one, right?”), she becomes furious that Jean would fall for Rose and not for her.

McClanahan confided that she never really liked “Mama’s Family” and was not on good terms with Betty White. McClanahan also was in the cast of “Sordid Lives.”

She told me a story about attending the premiere of Bea Arthur’s one-woman show on Broadway. At the party afterward, Arthur was getting a little drunk. McClanahan’s new husband went over and introduced himself. Arthur said, “Rue, yes, I always loved Rue. But that Betty White was a real c***.”

White, the oldest of the “Golden Girls” stars, is now the only one who’s still alive.

McClanahan is survived by her husband and her son, Mark, who lives in Austin.

After performing in Dallas last summer, she spent several weeks with her son. They were writing a show that McClanahan was planning to take to Broadway.

Thank you, Rue, for being a friend.

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