Who was the oldest Golden Girl: All the Golden Girls from oldest to youngest

Who was the oldest Golden Girl: All the Golden Girls from oldest to youngest

The younger sitcom viewers may not be familiar with the American sitcom Golden Girls, which ran on NBC between 1985 and 1992. Starring four female characters who were mostly above 50 years old, the show was surprisingly a success, and the main actresses went on to bag Emmy awards for their respective roles in the series. But then, who was the oldest Golden Girl?

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cynthia fee's death
The Golden Girls in their old age. Photo: @GeekVibesNation
Source: Twitter

The Golden Girls cast comprised four characters: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. Although they did not use their real ages in the series, the discussion on who the oldest among them has remained a topic of interest to many fans.

Overview of The Golden Girls production

Susan Harris created the American sitcom. The show was broadcast on NBC from 14th September 1985 to 9th May 1992 with about 180 half-hour episodes that spanned seven seasons. Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions produced the show in conjunction with Touchstone Television, while Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, and Harris served as the original executive producers.

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Cynthia Fee recorded the theme song for this popular sitcom, which won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy.

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What were the ages of the Golden Girls?

Below is information covering the Golden Girls' ages in the show and in real life (before their deaths)

1. Betty Marion White Ludden

golden girls' ages when they died
Betty White was known as Rose Nylund in the series. Photo: @StessTheEmcee
Source: Twitter
  • Date of birth: 17th January 1922
  • Actress's age (when the series premiered): 63 years old
  • Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
  • Character: Rose Nylund
  • Character's age (when the series premiered): 55 years old

Popularly known as Betty White, this actress played Rose Nylund, a Norwegian-American who grew up in a minor farming town in St. Olaf, Minnesota, USA. Her character is a widow with five children who relocated to Miami after the demise of her husband, Charlie Nylund.

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She was one of the Golden Girls cast popular with viewers because of the sweet naivete that her character displayed in the series. Most of her jokes centred around her upbringing on the farm, and it is assumed that she is unintelligent. However, the kindness she portrayed while airing her boring views made her fans' favourite.

Betty White enjoyed a long and successful career in Hollywood and, at some point, held the Guinness World Records for the longest acting actress. Unfortunately, she passed away on 31st December 2021, about two weeks before her 100th birthday.

How did Betty White die? According to her agent, Jeff Witjas, Betty died a natural death in her sleep.

2. Beatrice Arthur

Who was the oldest Golden Girl
Beatrice Arthur was born Bernice Frankel before she changed her name. Photo: @oldhollywoodz
Source: Twitter
  • Birth name: Bernice Frankel
  • Date of birth: 13th May 1922
  • Actress's age (when the series premiered): 63 years old
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
  • Character: Dorothy Zbornak
  • Character's age (when the series premiered): 53 years old

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The actress was born Bernice Frankel, but she changed her name to Beatrice Arthur at some point, the last name reflecting a misspelt version of her first husband's name. She started her acting career in 1947 and made appearances in several movies and television shows. She was, however, mostly known for her Golden Girls feature in 1985.

Playing the role of Dorothy Zbornak, she was the only divorcee among the four women who would later become housemates in the city of Miami. Her character was married for about 38 years to a man who impregnated her while she was in high school.

Beatrice passed away sometime around April 2009 from complications of lung cancer in her Los Angeles home. She was 86 years old at the time of death.

3. Estelle "Getty" Gettleman

Who was the oldest Golden Girl
Estelle "Getty" Gettleman played Sophia Petrillo. Photo: @withoutacue
Source: Twitter
  • Birth name: Estelle Sher
  • Date of birth: 25th July 1923
  • Actress's age (when the series premiered): 62 years old
  • Hometown: Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
  • Character: Sophia Petrillo
  • Character's age (when the series premiered): 79 years old

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Estelle played Sophia Petrillo in the Golden Girls series. The character also doubled as the mother of Dorothy, who shared a flat with her and two other ladies.

According to the series' characterisation, Estelle was the oldest of the flatmates, but the reality was that her on-screen daughter was a year older than her. So how old was Sophia on Golden Girls? She was 62 years old when the show started.

She was the straight talker among the women and famous for her cooking skills. But unfortunately, Estelle was the first Golden Girl to pass away. She died in July 2008 at 84 years from complicated dementia with a Lewy body.

4. Rue McClanahan

Golden Girl
Actress Rue McClanahan attends the 47th Annual Drama Desk Awards on May 19, 2002, at LaGuardia High School in New York City. Photo: Ron Galella
Source: Getty Images
  • Birth name: Eddi-Rue McClanahan
  • Date of birth: 21st February 1934
  • Actress's age (when the series premiered): 52 years old
  • Hometown: Healdton, Oklahoma, U.S.
  • Character: Blanche Devereaux
  • Character's age (when the series premiered): 53 years old

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Rue McClanahan was the youngest of the main female characters who made up the Golden Girls. She was over a decade younger than the other three housemates. Rue played Blanche Devereaux in the series.

The character hailed from a wealthy family and lived on a plantation on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia until she moved to Miami with her husband, who later passed away. Blanche had six children from her first marriage, but she was mostly portrayed as a woman who loved men a little too extra.

Rue McClanahan passed away at the age of 76 in 2010 from what looked like complications from a brain haemorrhage. She was said to have been successfully treated for breast cancer before then.


  1. Who was the oldest and youngest Golden Girl? The oldest Golden Girl was Betty White, while Rue McClanahan was the youngest.
  2. How many Golden Girls are still alive? None of them is still alive. The last of them died on the last day of 2021, aged 99 years old.
  3. How old were the Golden Girls when the show started? In reality, the ages of the actresses ranged from 51 to 63 years when the series premieres, but according to the movie, the oldest of the actresses was 79, and the youngest was about 53 years old.
  4. Who is the oldest Golden Girl actress? Betty Marion White Ludden was the oldest among the girls. She was 63 years old when the series started.
  5. How old was Rue McClanahan in 1985? She was 52 years old at the time the sitcom premiered.
  6. What are the Golden Girls' deaths in order? Estelle Getty died in 2008 at 84 from Lewy bodies dementia, Bea Arthur died of cancer at 86 in 2009, Rue McClanahan died at 76 in 2010 from a stroke, and Betty White died in 2021.

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Betty White, who was the oldest Golden Girl when the sitcom premiered, was also the one who lived the longest of the four actresses. Her death was the greatest loss to the entertainment industry. Overall, the Golden Girl's legacies will forever be ingrained in the sand of time.

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