McClanahan was a television veteran who first garnered attention in the early 1970s with major roles in the soaps Another World and Where The Heart Is. But her first real breakthrough was playing Vivian Harmon, the best friend of Bea Arthur’s Maude, in which she established an easy chemistry with Arthur that was later reprised to even greater effect in her Emmy-winning turn on The Golden Girls. McClanahan’s vain, perpetually randy Southern belle, Blanche Devereaux, was a favorite target of the group—particularly Estelle Getty’s Sophia, who referred to her frequently as a “slut puppy”—while her “sexy senior” persona became almost indistinguishable from McClanahan’s own, as explored in her autobiography, My First Five Husbands…And The One Who Got Away. After Golden Girls ended, McClanahan returned along with Getty and Betty White for the short-lived, Arthur-less sequel The Golden Palace. Her other recurring television roles included stints on Mama’s Family, Safe Harbor, and Sordid Lives: The Series, while she also popped up in the odd film like Starship Troopers and The Fighting Temptations. McClanahan’s death leaves Betty White as the last surviving Golden Girl.
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