"Picture It, The London Palladium 1988"
May 13, 2015 11:47 AM   Subscribe

To celebrate what would have been Bea Arthur's 93rd birthday, let's take some time to remember when Dorothy, Blanch, Rose, and Sophia performed for the Queen Mother.

After the first successful season of The Golden Girls in which all four actresses were nominated for Emmys (Betty White won Best Actress in a Comedy and the show won for Best Comedy), the show was also quite popular overseas after starting to air in the UK, and the actresses were asked to perform their characters for a skit for the Royal Variety Performance in November 1988.

This has often been interpreted as the late Queen Mother Elizabeth having been a fan and requesting the performance (perhaps because of it being billed a "command performance", and while there's no proof of that the Queen Mother was a fan of the four women in Miami who move in together late in life, she did seem to enjoy the performance.

The decision was made to re-do some of their soon-to-be-legendary discussions around the kitchen table for the occasion. Arthur told the Orlando Sentinel prior to the performance ''We'll do about seven minutes from the show, but we'll have to censor a few things for the queen' but racy lines did appear in the final script; when the question was asked how long Blanche took to have sex again after her husband died, Sophia responded "Until the ambulance man came." Apparently, the 88-year-old Queen Mum was spotted in the Royal Box chuckling heartily.

White documents the tale in more detail in her autobiography Here We Go Again: My Life In Television

The tale ends:

[T]he ladies all dropped a small curtsy as she approached. I happened to be the last one in our foursome, and after she greeted Bea and Rue and Estelle, as she got to me, she indicated the scantily clad Rockettes behind us and said to me, “Aren’t they beautiful girls?” I curtsied, and replied, “Yes, and such lovely bodies.” She lit up with a radiant smile that belied her eighty-six years and replied, “Oh, yes. Lovely bawdies.”
A contemporary article of the event from the Ocala Star-Banner

That night, the Golden Girls shared the stage with:
"Cast of 'Bread'
Bananarama - Nathan Jones Live - Royal Variety Performance, 1988
Ann Miller & Mickey Rooney
Kylie Minogue and
10 members from the Austrailian soap opera Neighbours (introduced by recently departed castmember Minogue)
posted by MCMikeNamara (5 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, this is marvelous, and I have to throw in the story of the LGBT homeless shelter she left $300,000 when she died.

Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like Bea?
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Betty White is an American treasure.
posted by LMGM at 2:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic, thank you!

also confidential to whoever's working on an immortality serum, give it to Betty White first
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The genius of this!
posted by Oyéah at 8:16 PM on May 13, 2015

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