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'The Golden Girls' Stars Betty White and Bea Arthur Were Friends on Screen but Foes in Reality

Monica Otayza
Sep 07, 2021
10:30 A.M.
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"The Golden Girls" stars Betty White and Bea Arthur had great chemistry on-screen, but they allegedly had bad blood when the cameras stopped rolling.

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Watching Betty White and Bea Arthur act like best friends on "The Golden Girls" had many people fooled as their relationship in real life was one allegedly filled with tension and hostility.

While both women played essential roles on the show, those close to Arthur admit she was not the friendliest person. Here's the real deal between White and Arthur behind the scenes and insights from people close to the actresses.

Betty White during an episode of "Bones," 2015 [left]. Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak in "The Golden Girls" [right] | Source: Getty Images

Betty White during an episode of "Bones," 2015 [left]. Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak in "The Golden Girls" [right] | Source: Getty Images

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DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES

Although there were a lot of theories on why the two stars did not get along, White revealed that Arthur was a reserved person who was simply not fond of her. White believed that her positive attitude and openness often got on Arthur's nerves.

The two women had different personalities -- White was naturally high-spirited and full of energy, while Arthur was more introverted. Naturally, their differences made them clash. Their "The Golden Girls" co-star, Rue McClanahan, said:

​"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..."

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Betty White and Bea Arthur during The Golden Girls: Season 3 Signing | Source: Getty Images

Betty White and Bea Arthur during The Golden Girls: Season 3 Signing | Source: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Arthur's son, Matthew Saks, revealed that his mom "unknowingly carried" an attitude that it was fun to always have someone to be angry at -- that ended up being White.

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BEHIND THE SCENES

Saks also revealed that his now-deceased mother considered herself a better actress than her co-star, and the latter winning an Emmy Award before Arthur added to her list of wrongs in his mother's eyes.

"My mother had close relationships with a few close friends," Saks shared. "She wasn't a loner. But she really liked sitting around and chilling, as people say."

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However, an insider who worked closely with the stars saw their relationship from a different angle. According to the source, Bea did not hate White but had trouble expressing her warm feelings.

Unfortunately, the late actress never got to air her side of the story before her death from cancer in 2009. White is still alive and continues to earn accolades for her long-standing career spanning over seven decades.

Before her passing, the actress left $300,000 to a foundation for the homeless LGBTQ+ in New York City, which was later used to build a housing facility called Bea Arthur Residence.

Bea Arthur during Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson, August 07, 2005 | Photo: Getty Images

Bea Arthur during Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson, August 07, 2005 | Photo: Getty Images

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THE REAL DEAL

In truth, the actresses were close friends when the series started and would not eat lunch without each other, which is why their co-stars, McClanahan and Estelle Getty, were surprised at the apparent feud.

During the show's first season, White and Arthur experienced the same heartbreak when their mothers passed away within a month apart. They had each other to lean on at that time. White previously said:

"You can't work that closely together and not become a family. I hear these horror stories about series where they don't speak off camera. How do you do comedy if you're not speaking to each other?"

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Pictured: (l-r) Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White on "The Golden Girls" Season 4 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: (l-r) Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White on "The Golden Girls" Season 4 | Photo: Getty Images

Arthur and White were not the only cast members who supported each other during a difficult time. During the first season, McClanahan endured the end of her fifth marriage while White mourned the death of her husband, Allen Ludden. The two became sources of strength to each other.

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WHITE'S AND ARTHUR'S ACHIEVEMENTS

White began her career as a local TV station assistant before launching her series called "Life with Elizabeth."

She became one of the first female producers in Hollywood, and throughout her career, has garnered many achievements, including seven Emmys and a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Meanwhile, Arthur started in off-Broadway plays and nightclub gigs before reaching fame on television. Her 1971 appearance on "All in the Family" made her a star, and soon CBS created a spinoff show called "Maude."

One of Arthur's most significant achievements was not in line with her career. Before her passing, the actress left $300,000 to a foundation for the homeless LGBTQ+ in New York City, which was later used to build a housing facility called Bea Arthur Residence.

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ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD FEUD

It appears Arthur and White are not the only Hollywood stars with known feuds. Marilyn Monroe and Joan Crawford were also on each other's wrong sides, primarily because of the shared attention they got in the 1953 Golden Globes.

Crawford, who was older than Monroe, saw the rising star as a threat to her tumultuous career coupled with her drinking habits. She would not accept that a new generation has come to take over the spotlight.

Actress Joan Crawford smiles for a photoshoot (1905 - 1977), circa 1940. | Source: Getty Images

Actress Joan Crawford smiles for a photoshoot (1905 - 1977), circa 1940. | Source: Getty Images

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It was said that their supposed affair also had something to do with Crawford's negative sentiments towards Monroe. After Monroe rejected the fellow actress, Crawford became spiteful.

Sadly, Crawford outlived Monroe and continued to grace the screens with her acting. In 1977, she passed away from a heart attack. Both ladies left a legacy in Hollywood along with their notable acting performances.

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