- Edwina Rueha McClanahan
- Healdton Oklahoma
- United States
- Actress Activist TV Personality & Author
- Knitting Involved In The Church Involved In Social And Political Causes
- Lovely Smile Versatile Acting Range Venerable Career
- Health Factors In Latter Years
Rue McClanahan (February 21, 1934 – June 3, 2010) was an Emmy Award-winning American actress, known for her roles on the television sitcoms Maude, NBC-TV's then FOX syndicated series Mama's Family, and NBC-TV's The Golden Girls.
Rue McClanahan Biographical sketch
Rue was born Edwina Rheua McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma, the daughter of Methodist parents Dreda Rheua-Nell (née Medaris), a beautician, and William Edwin McClanahan, a building contractor.
Rue was of Irish and Choctaw, Native American ancestry, and grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma; she graduated from Ardmore High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Tulsa; she majored in German and Theater, and was a member of the woman's fraternity Kappa Alpha Theta. She was also a National Honor Society Member.
A young Rue made her professional stage début at Pennsylvania's Erie Playhouse in 1957, in the play Inherit the Wind. She began acting on off-Broadway in New York City in 1957, but did not make her Broadway début until 1969, when she portrayed Sally Weber in the original production of John Sebastian and Murray Schisgal's musical, Jimmy Shine, with Dustin Hoffman in the title role.
Her role as Caroline Johnson on Another World (from July 1970 to September 1971) brought her notoriety. On the show, while taking care of twins Michael and Marianne Randolph, Caroline fell in love with their father, John, and began poisoning their mother, Pat. The short-term role was extended to more than a year before Caroline was finally brought to justice after kidnapping the twins. Once her role on Another World ended, McClanahan joined the cast of the CBS soap Where the Heart Is, in which she played Margaret Jardin.
Maude TV series success (1972-78)
In Maude, broadcast from 1972 to 1978, McClanahan played Maude's (Bea Arthur) best friend, Vivian Harmon, wife of Arthur Harmon.
The Golden Girls series (1985-92)
In The Golden Girls (original run 1985-1992) and the short-lived successor The Golden Palace, McClanahan portrayed man-crazed southern belle Blanche Devereaux, owner of a house in which she lived and rented out to her three roommates and best friends: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White) and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). McClanahan received an Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the show.
The handprints of Rue McClanahan in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.
Rue McClanahan Other works, social and political causes
She also appeared as a leader of Al-Anon in a 1970s informational video called "Slight Drinking Problem," in which Patty Duke played the enabling and eventually self-empowered wife of an alcoholic. In feature films McClanahan starred in 1961's The Rotten Apple, as well as Walk the Angry Beach in 1968. In 1971 she played a vicious fag hag in the film Some of My Best Friends Are..., which was set in a gay bar. In 1990, McClanahan starred as Matilda Joslyn Gage, mother-in-law of L. Frank Baum in the made-for-TV movie The Dreamer of Oz.
She also guest-starred on CBS's Newhart, and played Aunt Fran Crowley on the first two seasons of Mama's Family. She also voice-acted in cartoons, voicing Scarlett in the 1997 Fox Christmas special Annabelle's Wish. She was Grandma on the Blue's Clues video Blue's Big Treasure Hunt (1999). In the 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series episode "Doctor Octopus: Armed And Dangerous", she was Anastasia Hardy. The 2007 King of the Hill episode "Hair Today, Gone Today" cast her as Bunny. In 2009, she appeared in an episode of Law & Order as a woman who had an affair with John F. Kennedy.
An animal welfare advocate and vegetarian, McClanahan was one of the first celebrity supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Rue also supported Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to transforming communities to protect and improve the lives of cats, and appeared in a public service announcement for the organization in early 2010.
A Democrat, in December 2003, Rue wrote a letter informing Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry that "his pheasant hunting had cost him her vote and respect." In a July 2008 interview, she weighed in on the 2008 Presidential campaigns. Regarding Barack Obama, she said:
"This is the damnedest election I've ever lived through, and Obama is the most amazing candidate I've ever bumped into. The man has unshakable integrity. He's the nearest thing to Lincoln we've seen."
—Rue McClanahan, Interview at Queerty.com
In 2003, Rue appeared in the musical romantic comedy film The Fighting Temptations as Nancy Stringer, which costarred Cuba Gooding, Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Mike Epps and Steve Harvey. She replaced Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible in the musical Wicked on May 31, 2005. She played the role for eight months and departed the cast Jan. 8, 2006. She was replaced by Carol Kane on Jan. 10, 2006. Her autobiography, My First Five Husbands ... and the Ones Who Got Away, was released in 2007.
In June 2008, The Golden Girls was awarded the 'Pop Culture' award at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards. McClanahan accepted the award with costars Bea Arthur and Betty White. McClanahan's final acting role was in the cable series Sordid Lives on the Logo network, which premiered July 23, 2008, playing Peggy Ingram, the older sister of Sissy Hickey and mother of Latrelle, LaVonda and Earl "Brother Boy".
Rue was a supporter of gay rights and advocate for same sex-marriage in the United States. In January 2009, she appeared in the star-studded Defying Inequality: The Broadway Concert — A Celebrity Benefit for Equal Rights. McClanahan was devoutly Methodist; when asked if religious in a December 2009 private interview she was stated as saying:
"Yes, I am a Methodist. I have been affiliated with the Methodist church since I was a child and I must say that I simply love it! There are three things in this world that I love; animals, my Golden Girls, and being a Methodist. I can't fathom being a member in any other religion than the Methodist church. It is so relaxed and welcoming and you can just be yourself while worshiping with no strings attached. I am very proud to be a member in the Methodist church!"
Rue McClanahan Health factors and Rue's death
In June 1997, McClanahan was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she was treated successfully.
On November 14, 2009, she was to be honored for her lifetime achievements at an event "Golden: A Gala Tribute To Rue McClanahan" at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California. The event was postponed due to McClanahan's hospitalization. She had triple bypass surgery on November 4. It was announced on January 14, 2010, by Entertainment Tonight that, while recovering from surgery, she had suffered a minor stroke. In March 2010, fellow Golden Girls cast member Betty White reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that McClanahan was doing well and that her speech had returned to normal.
McClanahan died on June 3, 2010, at the age of 76, at New York–Presbyterian Hospital after she suffered another stroke. She was cremated after her death.
Rue McClanahan Rue's family, her passing and her legacy
Betty White, who co-starred with her on both Mama's Family and The Golden Girls, told Entertainment Tonight that McClanahan was a "close and dear friend" and that her death "hurts more than I ever thought it would".
McClanahan was survived by her sixth husband, Morrow Wilson (from whom she separated in 2009), her son from her first marriage, Mark Bish of Austin, Texas, her sister, Melinda L. McClanahan, of Silver City, New Mexico and a nephew, Brendan Kinkade. There were no funeral services for McClanahan so her family created an official memorial page on Facebook to honor her, and memorial services were held during the summer of 2010 in New York and Los Angeles. On June 10, 2010 McClanahan's New York apartment, with several unique design details, went on the market for $2.25 million.
In honor of her memory, We-TV which airs reruns of The Golden Girls; had a weeklong memoriam for McClanahan airing episodes featuring the best of Blanche from June 7 - 11, 2010.
On January 7, 2011, publicist and gay-rights advocate Jon-Marc McDonald posted on his blog that he would lead the publicity and marketing efforts on behalf of friend Michael J. La Rue and the estate of Rue McClanahan for ten auctions to be held throughout the United States to sell McClanahan’s belongings as, according to McDonald, was McClanahan’s wish; in addition McDonald would assist La Rue, McClanahan’s close friend and, prior to her death, became producer of her autobiographical Broadway bound show, My First Five Husbands, with the publicity for a documentary about the actress, release date unknown.
Rue McClanahan on the Web
Golden Girls – Rue McClanahan on Reading for Blanche and Rose ... Actress Rue McClanahan (Blanche) describes her first reading of the script as Rose and then as Blanche. This entry was posted in The Script and tagged 2006, Blanche, Center, Girls, Golden, McClanahan, Paley, READING, ...
Faithful Departed — Rue McClanahan - Busted Halo Faithful Departed — Rue McClanahan. (1934 - 2010). by Jordana Drell. (1). Follow us: It is customary at the end of each year to look back and remember important figures who have died. For Busted Halo's Faithful Departed, ...