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Jul 08 2014
Golden Oldies: 100 Most Memorable GOLDEN GIRLS Guest Spots Of All Time! Comments (0)

Golden-GirlsI'm with her. And her. And her. And her. (Image via NBC)

Who doesn't love The Golden Girls (1985—1992)?

If you're one of those who doesn't, please skip this mega-post, in which I struggle to count down my own personal 40 favorite guest-starring appearances on the show, with another 60 honorable mentions...for a total of 100.

Please share this post on social media!

The Golden Girls - Rue, Bea, Estelle & BettyI am counting anyone, outside of the four main cast members, who ever appeared on the show, whether it be a brief cameo, a one-off or a lengthy, recurring role, as a guest star. No animals, so “Dreyfuss” the dog, the piano-playing chicken and “Baby” the 29-year-old pig are shit outta luck.

There are many more appearances that just didn't grab me enough to warrant making my list, but that doesn't mean they were not valuable contributions to the show.

Golden-Girls-Shady-Pines

But the beauty of personal countdowns like these is that you can comment below with your own favorites and remind me of some I may have forgotten!

Of the 40 I picked, I provided as much info as humanly possible ... and there are lots of criss-crossing connections and wonderfully HUH? factoids about what some of the lesser-known guest stars later did with their lives and careers. All GG images via NBC. All images are copyrighted by their respective photographers/owners, and no ownership is implied by my fair-use display of them in this format.

Share this if you're so inclined...and thank you for being a friend...

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Lynnie-GreeneThis TV thing is just a fad! (Video still via NBC)

#40

Lynnie Greene as young “Dorothy Zbornak” in various episodes (1987—1991)

Lyn-Greene-TVLynnie Greene (b. May 21, 1954) had the misfortune of being in those flashback episodes of GG, the ones I and at least some other fans never liked as much—they gave Estelle Getty a crack at looking closer to her true age, but the backstory of “Dorothy,” “Sophia” and “Salvatore” (played by Sid Melton, May 22, 1917—November 2, 2011) just wasn't what we came to the show to see—we wanted to see older women dealing with contemporary problems with style and humor.

S-l1600Lynnie (R) with Bess Armstrong in On Our Own (Image via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

But Greene makes my list because she uncannily resembles Bea Arthur in appearance and mannerism, and that's pretty tough when the subject was previously thought to be inimitable! Her best appearance was probably in “One for the Money” (September 26, 1987), in which “Dorothy” and “Sophia” discover they've been working extra-hard in order to buy TVs for each other. (“Sophia” mentions that “new show” Make Room for Daddy, on which Melton, who plays “Salvatore” in the same episode, was a regular.)

Greene has acting very rarely on TV, beginning with a regular role on the Bess Armstrong (b. December 11, 1953) vehicle On Our Own (1977—1978). She made several guest appearances on big-name shows [and on the unsold pilot game show Get Rich Quick! in '77 with three beloved TV actors who died way too soon: Debralee Scott (April 2, 1953—April 5, 2005), John Ritter (September 17, 1948—September 11, 2003) and Robert Urich (December 19, 1946—April 16, 2002)], but her greater successes came as a writer and producer, working on Nip/Tuck (2006—2010) and Masters of Sex (2013), among others.

Greene-todayGreene in recent times—she's really gone to the dogs! (Photo credit pending. Any information is appreciated.)

Her most interesting theatrical claim to fame is originating the role of “Emma Goldman” in Stephen Sondheim's (b. March 22, 1930) Assassins in 1990 Off-Broadway.

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Cr6He cares for her very much. (Video still via NBC)

#39

Cesar Romero as “Tony Delveccio” in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ... Before They Die” (November 24, 1990)

Cesar-romero-and-joan-crawfordCesar Romero (February 15, 1907—January 1, 1994), a dashing, Golden Age of Hollywood leading man, made a cute love interest for “Sophia” in this episode, which finds her in bed with the guy after some passionate lovemaking (“You're good,“ he says. By way of explanation, she replies, “I live with a slut.“), telling him she loves him. All he can muster is a wimpy, “I care for you.” They wind up sharing photos of their late spouses. Awww!

Romero, a close confidante and frequent date of Joan Crawford's (March 23, 1906—May 10, 1977) and of many other glamorous leading ladies of the '30s and '40s, was gay as a goose. He once explained away his confirmed bachelorhood:

“How could I [get married], when I had so many responsibilities? Could I tell a girl, 'Let's get married, and you can come live with my father, my mother, two sisters, a niece and a nephew'? I have no regrets, no regrets.“

Despite being a Cuban homo in a conservative era (maybe it helped that he was a conservative), Romero never hurt for work, and was adroit in a variety of roles, whether it be stereotypical Latin lovers, cowboys, villains, leading men or colorful characters.

Tyrone-power-cesar-romeroHe's got the (Tyrone) Power! Whether top or bottom, here, he is simply on the right. (May 5, 1914—November 15, 1958)

Devil is a woman2Two of the most famous movies in which he appeared are the Marlene Dietrich (December 27, 1901—May 6, 1992) classic The Devil Is a Woman (1935; pictured, image via Paramount) and the Shirley Temple (April 23, 1928—February 10, 2014) starrers Wee Willie Winkie (1937) and The Little Princess (1939).

In truth, Romero was way more likely to be in temporary crowd-pleasers than enduring, deep classics. He worked in hundreds of films and made just as many TV appearances.

Cesar-Romero-laughs(GIF via 20th Century Fox)

In the latter medium, Romero is forever famous as “The Joker” on Batman (1966—1968), but was also a recurring character Cesar-romero-marriageontherocks-1on Julia (1970), Alias Smith and Jones (1971—1972) and Falcon Crest (1985—1988), played Freddie Prinze's (June 22, 1954—January 29, 1977) dad on Chico and the Man (1977) and made multiple trips to Fantasy Island (1979—1983) and on The Love Boat (1984—1986). He was also a silver-haired villain in a series of Walt Disney films starring young Kurt Russell (b. March 17, 1951).

Above right, he is pictured in Marriage on the Rocks (1965) opposite Deborah Kerr. (Image via Warner Bros.)

He died of a blot clot, complicated by bronchitis and pneumonia.

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Impotence-ErnestIf he can find it, he can have it...“Ernie” was probably the worst lover “Rose” has ever had. (Video still via NBC)

#38

Richard Herd as “Ernie Faber” in “The Impotence of Being Ernest” (February 4, 1989)

Richard Herd (b. September 26, 1932), who looks more like Karl Malden (March 22, 1912—July 1, 2009) than Karl Malden did, is “Rose”'s impotent boyfriend in this A-plus episode, even getting to play in what has to be one of Betty's Top 3 scenes of the whole series:

Rose: “If you ask me, people rely too much on sex in relationships, anyway.”

Ernie: “You're right. I mean, what is sex, after all?”

Rose: “Two clunky old bodies thrashing around against each other. Like animals.”

Ernie: “Get all sweaty and flushed.”

Rose: “Hair get mussed.”

Ernie: “You lose your breath.”

Ernie-RosePassing on dessert (Video still via NBC)

Rose: “You lose your earring.”

Ernie: “Your mouth waters.”

Rose: “Your nose runs.”

Ernie: “Your heart races.”

Rose: “Your blood races.”

Ernie: “Rose...”

Rose: “Say it, Ernie!”

Ernie: “It's time, Rose.”

Rose: “Check! Please!”

Herd was a classically trained stage actor whose first movie was an Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle flick in 1969, before logging appearances in some of the most famous films of the '70s and '80s, including All the President's Men (1976), The China Syndrome and The Onion Field (both 1979), Private Benjamin (1980) and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987).

Richard-Herd-as-Wilhelm-seinfeld-34415862-977-637When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go...downtown. (Image via NBC)

Herd has worked steadily, including regular roles in SeaQuest 2032 (1993—1994) and Star Trek: Voyager (1999—2001), but he's probably stopped on the street most often and complimented on his role as “Mr. Wilhelm,” “George Costanza”'s brainwashed boss on Seinfeld (1995—1998). They call him “Sheila.”

Admiral-Owen-ParisAs Adm. Owen Paris on Star Trek: Voyager (Video still via Paramount TV)

Interestingly, Herd reunited with Betty White for her 2012 hidden-camera series Betty White's Off Their Rockers. I guess it was time.

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Priscilla-MorrillDoesn't wear Avon, has a mop, is still paying for an encyclopedia her son used just once to look up sexual genitalia: female. (Video still via NBC)

#37

Priscilla Morrill as “Lucille Beatty,” the wife of the dude “Rose” sexed to death, in “A Bed of Rose's” (January 11, 1986)

Priscilla Morrill (June 4, 1927—November 9, 1994) has a memorable spotlight scene in this, the episode that won Betty White her Emmy for the entire series. As the wife of “Al” (Richard Roat, ), Morrill starts out tart when “Rose” shows up to discuss her fling with the man she hadn't realized was married, but dissolves into shock when “Rose” breaks the news that “Al” has died after a night of adulterous passion.

Priscilla-Morrill-GGHer husband died doing what he liked to do best!

Morrill's speech is classic:

“Well, you must have the wrong Al. You've been sleeping with someone else's Al. My Al is as healthy as a horse...it can't be him. Al Beatty from Boca Raton? You're telling me Al is dead? A heart attack is crazy—he was a runner, he couldn't have a heart attack. I'm talking so it can't be true, you know what I mean? If I keep talking, it isn't true. All I have to do is talk forever. Oh, God...Al! I'm all right—I'm okay. Al...the big jerk. I loved him.”

Giphy(GIF via NBC)

The scene brilliantly transforms from the other woman consoling a widow to the widow consoling the other woman!

Priscilla_Morrill_Ed_Asner_Mary_Tyler_Moore_Show_1974“Mrs. Graaant!” (Image via CBS)

Threes-CompanyA stage actress, Morrill made her TV debut in 1955 (in a filmed version of the Broadway show Dream Girl) and worked steadily in the medium, especially in the '70s and '80s. She's very familiar to fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973—1975) as “Lou Grant”'s ex, “Edie,” and worked with Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan on Maude twice (1973—1975). She was “Chrissy” aka Suzanne Somers' mom on Three's Company (1977; pictured at left, video still via ABC) and had a recurring role on Newhart (1985—1989). One of her longest gigs was on the soap opera Santa Barbara (1985—1986). Her final recurring TV role was on Coach (1989—1992).

Juicy tidbit: She was the stand-in for Jean Stapleton on an episode of All in the Family (1971—1979) on a 1979 episode in which Stapleton played a double role.

She died of a kidney infection.

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Big_Daddy“I've always felt that the stunnin' classical beauty if an Eye-talian woman should be admired like a fine work of art.”

#36

Murray Hamilton as “Blanche”'s father “Big Daddy Hollingsworth” in “Big Daddy” (May 3, 1986) 

Big-Daddy-Murray-HamiltonMurray Hamilton (March 24, 1923—September 1, 1986) played “Blanche”'s often-referred-to father in only one episode. In “Big Daddy,” the titular character — keep in mind that Hamilton was only 11 years older than Rue McClanahan — shows up to reveal he's going to fulfill his dream of being a singer. “Blanche” is mortified by his embarrassing plan, and must come to terms with the fact that her father is a flesh-and-blood, mortal man with his own ideas of how to live his life independent of her larger-than-life image of him.

5-Jaws-quotes(GIF via Universal)

The-GraduateActive (and Tony-nominated) in the theater and in film, Hamilton is perhaps best-remembered as hey-hey-hey “Mr. Robinson” in The Graduate (1967; pictured at right, image via United Artists) and as the soulless mayor in Jaws (1975), but he also has the distinction of appearing in the film that contains Rock Hudson's best (only great?) performance, Seconds (1966).

On TV, Hamilton's episode of The Twilight Zone is one of many classics from the series:

Unfortunately, Hamilton died of cancer less than four months after his GG performance aired. The next time “Big Daddy” showed up, he was played by David Wayne (January 30, 1914—February 9, 1995).

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Herta-Ware-Golden-GirlsIda & Sophia wax philosophical about aging. Ware was 71, Estelle Getty was 65. (Video still via NBC)

#35

Herta Ware as “Ida,” homeless senior in “Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?” (December 3, 1988)

Herta Ware (June 9, 1917—August 15, 2005) was a highlight of the rather heavy episode (that lady singing “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” really put it over the top) about homelessness, playing a woman who admits she never realized it cost money to get old. When Sophia tells her to hang on 'til tomorrow, Ida says, “Sophia, it is tomorrow.” Deep.

Herta-WareHerta with Ryan Phillippe in 1999's Cruel Intentions Image via Columbia)

Herta-Ware-Will_GeerHerta was a stage actress who made her debut in 1936 opposite her husband, the (secretly gay) Will Geer, who much later was “Grandpa Walton.” They divorced but remained friends throughout Geer's blacklisting for his leftist beliefs, which she shared — did I mention that Herta was the granddaughter of the co-founder of the Communist Party of the United States? She was also mom-in-law to Larry Linville (September 29, 1939—April 10, 2000), aka “Frank Burns” from M*A*S*H, whom she outlived.

The highly regarded theater actress is pictured at right, in a performance of Skin of Our Teeth, as photographed by Mary Ann Dolcemascolo, but she was most recognizable for her appearances in Cocoon (1985) and Cocoon: The Return (1988).

She passed away at 88 after battling Parkinson's disease, after which time her ashes (as had been Will Geer's) were scattered at the outdoor theater they'd founded.

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Barbara-Babcock-Vixen“Charmaine” is so refined and vivacious and charmin'—boy, she's really changed! (Video still via NBC)

#34

Barbara Babcock as “Blanche”'s roman a clef-writin' sister “Charmaine Hollingsworth” on “Sisters and Other Strangers” (March 3, 1990)

Rue-McClanahanBarbara Babcock (b. February 27, 1937) has fun as a slutty Southern belle, playing “Blanche”'s no-good sister. “Charmaine” is in town promoting her new novel Vixen: Story of a Woman, and the visit starts out promisingly ... maybe the old rivals can patch things up and be sisterly again? When “Blanche” gets around to reading “Charmaine”'s book, she decides it's a thinly veiled tell-all about herself, which threatens to drive the sisters apart forevuh.

It was a good episode for the end of a show's fifth season, also featuring a fun, Ninotchka-derived performance from Marian Mercer (November 26, 1935—April 27, 2011) as “Stan”'s Eastern European cousin “Magda.”

Babcock is of course well known for her stint on Dallas (1978—1981), her Emmy-winning role as “Grace Gardner” on Hill Street Blues (1981—1987) and her 1993—1998 regular role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Babcock-plato2In the famous November 22, 1968, “Plato's Stepchildren” Star Trek episode in which “Kirk” & “Uhura” kiss (Video still via Paramount)

She hasn't acted in film or on TV in over a decade, which I guess is what working on a couple of episodes of Judging Amy (1999—2005) will do to a gal.

Our loss!

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Anne-FrancisSomebody here doesn't remember Prom Night 1946 ... and I'm that somebody! (Video still via NBC)

#33

Anne Francis (September 16, 1930—January 2, 2011) as “Dorothy”'s boundary-less old frenemy “Trudy McMann” in “Till Death Do We Volley” (March 18, 1989)

Anne Francis (September 16, 1930—January 2, 2011) brings real verve to her part as an old friend of “Dorothy”'s in this lively, practical-joke-laced episode. “Trudy”'s arrival brings with it a cloud of catty repartée, one that seemingly ends when Trudy drops dead during a heated tennis match vs. “Dorothy.” When it turns out that the whole thing was a tasteless trick, only “Dorothy” has predicted it — and she's waiting in bed with Trudy's husband to get her own brand of revenge.

Dorothy-Trudy-Anne-Francis-Bea-Arthur“Dorothy” envies “Trudy” for her breast implants. (Video still via NBC)

Sunday-letters-19-_1718762cA child actress on the stage, Francis became true TV royalty after appearing in a number of interesting and popular '50s flicks, like Bad Day at Black Rock and Blackboard Jungle (both 1955), and Forbidden Planet (1956; pictured at right, image via MGM). On TV, she played a number of dramatic roles throughout the '50s and '60s, most memorably as a confused woman seeking a gold thimble in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode “The After Hours”—if you've seen it, you've never looked at a department store mannequin in quite the same way again!

Anne-Francis-Susan Slept HereLooking very vintage-“Barbie” in the 1954 Debbie Reynolds starrer Susan Slept Here (Image via RKO Radio)

Her breakthrough came when she landed the sex-ay title role on the fondly remembered, short-lived, Honey West (1965—1966), which nabbed her a Golden Globe Award if no enduring residuals.

Francis guest-starred on almost every one of the most popular series from the '60s to the '90s, including recurring roles on Dallas (1981), Riptide (1984) and The Drew Carey Show (1998).

One of her most famous performances was mostly left on the cutting-room floor — in 1968, she played “Georgia James” in Funny Girl, but clashed with star (and eventual Oscar winner) Barbra Streisand. Francis said of the experience:

“[Barbra Streisand] told Harry Stradling how to [photograph] her and Wyler how to direct. It was all like an experience out of Gaslight. There was an unreality about it ... I had only one unpleasant meeting with Barbra during the entire five months of rehearsals and production. But the way I was treated, it was a nightmare. And my scenes were whittled from the very good ones and a lot of other ones, to two minutes of voice-over in a New Jersey railroad station.”

Anne Francis Funny GirlSo screwed it wasn't even Funny (Image via Columbia)

Francis never achieved movie stardom, but worked in TV until her battle with pancreatic cancer made work impossible. She died in 2011.

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Bea-arthur-dick-van-dyke-golden-girls-tv-1985-1992-photo-GCVan Dyke earned an Emmy nomination for his 1989 performance. (Image via NBC)

#32

Dick Van Dyke as “Dorothy”'s clown love interest “Ken Whittingham” in “Love Under the Big Top” (October 28, 1989)

Dick Van Dyke (b. December 13, 1925) gives it his all as one of “Dorothy”'s many serious boyfriends with an issue that drives them apart (she was a real “Jerry Seinfeld” in that way)— in this case, her discomfort with his desire to give up lawyering in order to be a clown. The episode, which sneaks in some good-hearted propaganda about dolphins being killed by tuna fishermen, culminates with a (goofily) dramatic courtroom scene in which “Ken” has to argue a case in full clown regalia.

Dick-van-dyke-featWhip out your Cockney! (Image via Walt Disney)

The Tony- and Grammy- and Emmy-winning Van Dyke, obviously, has been working non-stop since his TV debut in 1957, most famously on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961—1966), one of the best series of all time. After decades of illustrious film roles in the likes of Mary Poppins (1964) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and countless hours of episodic television, he had a 180-episode run with TV's Diagnosis Murder (1993—2002), whose demographic was in the “Sophia” range.

Tumblr_lmmqy4TaIG1qdx8gy(GIF via CBS)

In his personal life, Van Dyke was involved with Michelle Triola (November 13, 1932—October 30, 2009), the woman who sued Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924—August 29, 1987) for palimony (and lost) for over 30 years. Triola was represented in her case against Marvin by divorce-lawyer legend Marvin Mitchelson (May 7, 1928—September 18, 2004), who made an appearance on GG toward the end of the series in 1991.

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Tony-JayWho wouldn't like to help him mold his clay or buff his marble any time??? (Video still via NBC)

#31

Tony Jay as glass-closeted sculptor “Laszlo” in “The Artist” (December 19, 1987)

When the women are simultaneously smitten with world-famous artist “Laszlo,” it makes for a cold war. All three pose for the handsome old dude — played suavely by Tony Jay (February 2, 1933—August 13, 2006) — the results are a mish-mash. Far more surprising is the real object of his affection ... a dude.

Rose-Laszlo“I see a woman with a fuller figure, wider hips, wider eyes...” (Video still via NBC)

Jay, a British-born thesp, had the kind of deep, sinister voice that kept him busy. Interestingly, he appeared on the U.S. TV series Beauty and the Beast (1987—1990) for several episodes in 1987 and voiced “M. D'Arque” in the Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast (1991). His work for Disney extended when he voiced “Judge Claude Frollo” in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996).

CLaude FrolloThe evil “Frollo” (GIF via Walt Disney)

Jay's voice made him a popular addition to many other cartoons and various video games, including “Megabyte” in ReBoot (1998).

Tony-Jay“I thought you knew...” was very Nobody's perfect!” (Video still via NBC)

Sadly, Jay died following surgery to remove what turned out to be a non-cancerous tumor from his lung.

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Tom-Villard-“Attila the Sub” taught him English at Eastwick High in '75, when Mr. Martinez had his sex change. (Video still via NBC)

#30

Tom Villard as “Randy Becker” on “Rose: Portrait of a Woman” (March 7, 1992)

Tom-Villard-GGTom Villard (November 19, 1953—November 14, 1994) appeared on GG twice, the first time in the 1986 episode “Vacation” as one of a group of guys battling a monsoon on a tropical vacation the ladies decided to take.

In that episode, Villard was a platinum-blond smart-ass upset at having to share a bathroom with Grandma Moses and the Mosettes. (Pictured on the right, at left.)

TOM_VILLARD_-_MATT_McCOYThe blonde bimbo from We Got It Made went on to become a right-wing Christian speaker. I'll take the brunets. (Image via NBC)

But Villard had a more central role in “Rose: Portrait of a Woman,” in which he plays an old student of “Dorothy's” who has made it big in the video-game industry and offers to hire her for a high-paying job as a motivational speaker for his sales force. It doesn't work out when the men resist learning anything at all; for some reason, Dorothy turns down a great salary, benefits and no work!!!

Popcorn-1991-02-gVillard's least-cute role, in 1991's Popcorn (Studio Three Corp.)

Heartbreak-ridge-clint-eastwood-tom-villard-pic-32817Villard is one of my favorite '80s actors — not only was he cute as a button, he had a wonderfully sweet vibe. He's most known for his role as adorkable “Jay Bostwick” on We Got It Made (1983—1984, 1987—1988), but also appeared in the TV movie that launched Love, Sidney in 1981, in the films Parasite and Grease 2 in 1982, in the 1986 Clint Eastwood (b. May 31, 1930) film Heartbreak Ridge (pictured at right, image via Warner Bros.), in the John Cusack (b. June 28, 1966)/Demi Moore (b. November 11, 1962) romp One Crazy Summer (1986), in Ken Russell's (July 3, 1927—November 27, 2011) Whore, in the slasher flick Popcorn and in the hit My Girl (the latter three all in 1991).

Tom-Villard-SwimsuitBarely keeping a straight face with Catherine Oxenberg in the 1989 TV movie Swimsuit (Video still via NBC)

Villard made a number of appearances on game shows, including this funny fake-out of an opening on Password with Constance McCashin (b. June 18, 1947), who is a therapist in real life now:

Here is Tom winning his partner $10,000.

Villard was gay and battling AIDS for the last several years of his life, a fact he bravely confirmed in a 1994 interview with Entertainment Tonight. He spoke out, asking for help because his acting jobs had dried up; the plea led to some work from various quarters, including a role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1994). Villard gave a frank interview about the challenges of living with AIDS that ran in the December 1994/January 1995 issue of Poz Magazine.

Tumblr_mrmuryLgBJ1r1qsedo1_250(GIF via Trimark)

Sadly, he succumbed to AIDS as his Poz interview was hitting the stands.

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Angelo-300x220Uncle Angelo was pleased to meet a pair of nuns collecting lingerie for needy sexy people. (Video still via NBC)

#29

Bill Dana as “Dorothy”'s daffy “Uncle Angelo” on 6 episodes (1988—1992)

TV legend Bill Dana (b. October 5, 1924) arrived in 1988 as “Sophia”'s 90-year-old big brother (an age he is reaching only in 2014!), a man everyone thought was a priest. To protect his delicate sensibilities, “Sophia” convinces “Dorothy” and her ex, “Stan”, to pretend they never got divorced. Problem is, “Dorothy” hates “Stan.” Second problem is, “Angelo” is no priest. Hilarity ensues.

Bill_Dana_Jose_Jimenez_Bill_Dana_Show_1964Angelo's best moments probably came on that and on his final appearance, Season 7's Ebbtide VI: The Wrath of Stan, in which his dissatisfaction with a crummy building he's living in leads to a court case against “Dorothy” and “Stan.”

Dana, a WWII vet, cut his teeth in the biz writing comedy for the likes of Steve Allen (December 26, 1921—October 30, 2000) and Don Adams (April 13, 1923—September 24, 2005) — Dana's brother wrote the theme for Get Smart (1965—1975) — and performing on the nightclub circuit with Imogene Coca (November 18, 1908—June 2, 2001), Martha Raye (August 27, 1916—October 19, 1994) and others. His unforgettable character at the time, whom he played on no fewer than a half dozen different TV series, was known for uttering, in a heavy Mexican accent, “My name José Jiménez.” The whole funny-accent shtick got old, so Dana ditched it. Speaking of changing with the times, it was “Jimenez” who wrote Sammy Davis Jr.'s famous 1972 episode of All in the Family (1971—1979).

After finishing up on GG in 1992, Dana made a 1994 appearance on the spin-off series Empty Nest (1988—1995) and then retired.

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Doris BelackShe was thinking of a permanent arrangement. (Video still via NBC)

#28

Doris Belack as “Dorothy”'s rich-bitch sister “Gloria Petrillo-Mayston” in “The Custody Battle” (December 7, 1985)

Doris-Belack-bedDoris Belack (February 26, 1926—October 4, 2011) had a tough job in this early episode — she had to lock horns with Bea Arthur as her annoying, spoiled sister from California, the one who'd married well. Making matters worse, it turns out her visit has an ulterior motive: She wants their mom “Sophia” to return to her mansion with her and live out her days there, being waited on hand and foot, a country away from “Dorothy” and the other girls. 

Why wouldn't “Sophia” want to go? After all, she'd be doing her grocery shopping with Bert Convy (July 23, 1933—July 15, 1991)!

BelackBelack played “Fish”'s wife on one episode of Barney Miller when Florence Stanley (July 1, 1924—October 3, 2003) was unavailable. (Image via ABC)

Doris_belack_01x3Belack had a recurring role on Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1990—2001), but her TV roots went back to a 1947 (!) episode of the early The Borden Show (1947). She made many episodic appearances and did several soaps, but a stable hit eluded the familiar character actress.

Still, all her soap opera experience probably helped inform her role as a soap producer in the classic '80s comedy Tootsie (1982).

Belack's final stage appearance (see here) came in 2002. Her final TV role was on Sex and the City (1998—2004) in 2003 and her final film role was in an indie about a Jewish woman and a Muslim woman entering arranged marriages (Arranged, 2007), but her last job of any kind was providing her distinctive voice to ... Grand Theft Auto IV.

220px-GloriaI think Belack's performance as “Gloria” is pretty flawless, eclipsing a later appearance by the otherwise fabulous Dena (“It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!”) Dietrich (b. December 4, 1928) as the same character in 1991. Dietrich (pictured at right, video still via NBC) was perfectly cast, physically, as a sibling of “Dorothy,” but she had the misfortune of appearing at a time that came closer to the end of the series, when the writing wasn't as sharp.

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Lloyd-BochnerCan't you see Patrick is in the middle of an EX-quisite performance? (Video still via NBC)

#27

Lloyd Bochner as “Patrick Vaughn” in “The Actor” (January 17, 1987)

Eduardo_and_RoseLloyd Bochner (July 29, 1924—October 29, 2005) was on two episodes (he was the ridiculously untalented hairdresser “Eduardo” in the other), but it's his deadpan, performance as pretentious horndog actor “Patrick Vaughn” that brings out the HAs. In “The Actor,” Bochner is the star of a local production of the 1953 William Inge play Picnic, and he's trying to canoodle with all three of our girls behind each other's backs. In a hysterical twist, it turns out he's also sleeping with another actress in the play (Janet Carroll, December 24, 1940—May 22, 2012) ... and the entire rest of the cast!

But not with that damned liar, “Ed,” the stage manager (Frank Birney, b. ?).

Tumblr_mezbxb1kFW1qaqj1wo1_500I could eat... (GIF via CBS)

Canadian Bochner was a child actor before WWII and appeared on such early TV as One Man's Family (1949—1952) in 1949 and, later, as a regular on Hong Kong (1960—1961). He never broke through to stardom, yet he was all over television and is an instnatly recognizable face — and voice. That voice!

Bochner's most famous role has to be as the star of one of the best Twilight Zone episodes, “To Serve Man” (1962). To this day, “It's a cookbook!” (as shrieked by Susan Cummings, b. July 10, 1930) means something to most TV fans. He also worked as “Cecil Colby” on Dynasty (1981—1982) — and had quite the massive heart attack while sticking it to Joan Collins (b. May 23, 1933)!

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 3.33.49 PMI like father, I like son. (Images via CBS, left, and headshot)

Somehow, I never put two and two together to realize he was the father of one of the sexiest men of all time, actor/director Hart Bochner (b. October 3, 1956).

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David and BlancheHe loves leftovers. (Video still via NBC)

#26

Billy Jayne/Billy Jacoby as “Blanche”'s bratty grandson “David” in On Golden Girls (October 26, 1985)

You've got to give Billy Jayne (b. April 10, 1969) major props for playing an annoying kid so well you cheer every time you watch “Sophia” smack him, even if you're against corporal punishment.

Tumblr_mk6x55zYOq1r8r6jvo1_250(GIF via NBC)

2013-06-04_2111In this episode, “Blanche”'s grandkid “David” is nowhere to be found on his flight to Miami, turning up later when brought to the ladies' home by a cop. He promptly invites over a bunch of random punks (one has a tail!) and blasts fantastic fake rock music in the living room in the middle of the night. Making matters worse, “David” enjoys taking potshots at all the women's ages, which for the record were 63 (Betty White), 63 (Bea Arthur), 62 (Estelle Getty, though she was playing 20 years older) and 51 (Rue McClanahan).

Billy-JacobyJacoby the teen idol (Image via Sterling Macfadden)

“Blanche” is able to figure out that “David” is acting out thanks to his self-centered parents, and in a brilliant move, she manipulates her daughter over the phone by threatening to take custody of the wayward boy, who becomes humbled and loving in the space of the episode.

As obnoxious as this character was, I still enjoy this episode more than “Dorothy's Prized Pupil” from 1987 with an embryonic Mario Lopez (b. October 10, 1973), which comes off as a bit preachy.

Billy-JayneJayne, who always reminded me of a combo of the famous '80s Corys, was an acting veteran by the time he filmed this episode at age 16 — he's been working since 1977. His steadiest gigs were in the 1979—1980 TV version of The Bad News Bears and on some other quickly-forgotten TV bombs like the Miriam Flynn (b. June 18, 1952) vehicle Maggie (1981—1982) and It's Not Easy (1983). But Jayne is more familiar for a recurring role on Silver Spoons (1985—1987) and for his biggest job, as a regular on Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990—1993, pictured at right, image via Columbia).

MichaelLorraineScott Jacoby as “Michael” &  Rosalind Cash (December 31, 1938—October 31, 1995) as “Lorraine” on 1988's “Mixed Blessings” (Video still via NBC)

All of his siblings and his ex-wife are actors. In fact, his Emmy-winning [as the son of a gay man played by Hal Holbrook (b. February 17, 1925) in 1972's That Certain Summer] brother Scott Jacoby (b. November 26, 1956) played “Dorothy”'s aimless son “Michael Zbornak” in three episodes of The Golden Girls — then retired from acting in 1991 after an appearance in a horror flick.

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Brent-CollinsA little problem (Video still via NBC)

#25

Brent Collins as “Dr. Jonathan Newman” in “A Little Romance” (December 14, 1985)

Brent Collins (October 31, 1941—January 6, 1988) played an early love interest for “Rose” who presented a challenge to the other ladies, who presumably consider themselves open-minded, because her mysterious doctor boyfriend turns out to be a little person. The women are really thrown for a loop; when he says he's “Dr. Jonathan Newman,” “Dorothy” shoots back, “Are you absolutely sure?” When bringing out hors d'oeuvres for a cozy, getting-to-know-you dinner at home, “Blanche” blanches after calling out, “Shrimp?”

“Rose” agonizes over whether this relationship can work in spite of their differences, only to discover in the end that it's “Dr. Newman” who can't handle their differences — see, “Rose” isn't Jewish....

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 12.13.53 AMBe our guest (Video still via NBC)

MrBigCollins was memorable in this, one of his only parts; he worked on only a few projects in the '80s, notably as “Mr. Big” on As the World Turns (1982—1983) and as “Wallingford” on Another World (1984—1988; pictured at right, video still via NBC) before dying at an early age of the incredibly rare Marfan syndrome (MFS). Also, all the little-person anguish provides an opportunity for the most famous dwarf in Hollywood history — Billy Barty (October 25, 1924—December 23, 2000) — to pop up in a dream sequence playing “Rose”'s father. Barty was just one of many Old Hollywood vets to grace the show. In an even more random appearance within the same sequence, famed psychic Jeane Dixon (January 5, 1904—January 25, 1997) emerges to make predictions involving Brooke Shields (b. May 31, 1965), Lady Di (July 1, 1961—August 31, 1997), Jackie O (July 28, 1929—May 19, 1994) ... everyone but “Rose.”

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Sheree-NorthShe's dyin'...no wonder she's lookin' so much older than Blanche. (Video still via NBC)

#24

Sheree North as “Blanche”'s kidney-coveting sister “Virginia Hollingsworth” on “Transplant” (October 5, 1985) & “Ebb Tide” (December 9, 1989)

Virginia-Sheree-Golden-GirlsSheree North (January 17, 1932—November 4, 2005) brought convincing sex-kitten oomph to her role as “Blanche”'s younger (she was two years older in real life) sister, one with whom “Blanche” has always endured a rivalry. But in her first of two appearances, “Virginia” throws “Blanche” for a loop when she announces, in her Southern twang, I'm dyin'.” She needs a kidney, and “Blanche” is her only hope. She winds up living and “Blanche” keeps both of her kidneys, which is just as well, since the two wound up quarreling over their “Big Daddy”'s funeral on North's second, 1989 appearance.

Sexy-Sheree-NorthDancer and stage actress North was one of the curvy blondes being groomed by rival studios to compete with Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926—August 5, 1962) in the '50s, but her star never ascended in the way Jayne Mansfield's (April 19, 1933—June 29, 1967) did, albeit briefly. North played Monroe's mentally unbalanced mom in the 1980 TV biopic Marilyn: The Untold Story.

The whole Next Marilyn thing bombed, but North went on to become a prolific and effective TV actress, rarely in recurring but always in interesting roles. She wasn't averse to tossing her natural glamourpuss tendencies out the window, but they came in handy when she played “Lou Grant”'s sexy GF on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970—1977) from 1974—1975 and a hooker (for which she received an Emmy nomination) on Archie Bunker's Place (1979—1983) in 1979.

Tumblr_m50tw5EOLG1r3f9sho1_1280The world's flirtiest women's room attendant (Image via NBC)

ShereeNorthAlong with making an impression as “Blanche”'s sis, North's most famous TV gig has to be one of her final performances — she was “Kramer”'s mom “Babs” on Seinfeld (1989—1998) in a 1995 episode in which she revealed her son's real name: “Cosmo.”

North pictured in a 1970s headshot at right.

She returned for the Seinfeld series finale in 1998; her Seinfeld turns were her third- and second-to-last roles before her cancer-related death in 2005.

Sheree-North-bombshell-Marilyn-MonroeNorth was very, very popular on TV. (Video still via CBS)

There is a Sheree North Room in NYC's Chelsea Pines Inn, in which memorabilia from her career is on display.

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Joseph-CampanellaBlanche is single, free Saturday night and can arch her back until her head touches her heel. (Video still via NBC)

#23

TIE: George Clooney as “Bobby Hopkins” & Joseph Campanella as “Al Mullins” in “To Catch a Neighbor” (May 2, 1987)

ClooneyGeorge Clooney (b. May 6, 1961) and Joseph Campanella (b. November 21, 1924) packed a powerful punch as a cop duo using “Blanche”'s house as HQ to spy on some jewel thieves who've moved in next door. Clooney was in his TV guest-star phase, and really brought the mega-watt charm. It's not at all surprising to look back at his performance and realize he would go on to become a superstar.

George-ClooneyBlanche graciously says Dorothy can have the boy. (Video still via NBC)

CampanellaYou pretty much know everything there is to know about Clooney, so let's not run off his credits here.

WWII vet Campanella — who my mom spotted in Walt Disney World in the '70s and snapped with his kid, with his kind permission — is a ubiquitous actor of the stage, screen and TV, also doing lots of voice-over work.

Some of his biggest TV roles were on Naked City (1961—1962), The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (1969—1972), Mannix (1967—1972), One Day at a Time (1976—1982) and The Colbys (1985—1986).

On the latter, he was Barbara Stanwyck's (July 16, 1907—January 20, 1990) last on-screen love interest.

Vintage-CampanellaCampanella has been a pitchman in countless TV ads. (Image via headshot)

His longest-running gig was on The Bold and the Beautiful — he was with the soap from 1996 until 2005, at which time he was over 80 years old.

Campanella's most recent performance was in 2009.

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Meg-Wyllie“Candy” is dandy. (Video still via NBC)

#22

Meg Wyllie as “Candy” the stewardess in “Nothing to Fear, But Fear Itself” (October 24, 1987)

Meg Wyllie (February 15, 1917—January 1, 2002) made four appearances on GG as different characters, but my favorite (and yours?) was her brief bit as “Candy,” the aged stewardess on that flight to the Bahamas that was allowing “Rose” to overcome her fear of public speaking, “Dorothy” to overcome her fear of flying and “Blanche” to overcome her fear of a recurring nightmare involving bald men and the voice of either God or a sarcastic pilot.

While making her announcements, “Candy” says:

“And if anyone found a big bolt, please return it to me. It came off the beverage cart ... yes, that's it, the beverage cart!”

She only has a few lines, but Wyllie really wrings every laugh out of them, ending “Rose”'s touching mini-eulogy with a crack about the Copacabana just before the pilot makes some unfortunate small-airplane pilot humor about the craft tipping over.

Meg-Wyllie-Golden-Girls-mamaEating moist sponge cake before exiting with, “We don't like Christina, remember?” (Video still via NBC)

Gotta say that another of Wyllie's GG gigs comes close to being her best — in “Mother Load” (October 26, 1991), Wyllie plays the mommy of “Blanche”'s latest squeeze, a mama's boy watching his refined sugar intake played by Peter Graves (March 18, 1926—March 14, 2010); yes, she was only seven years older.

Meg-Wyllie-KeeperAs Star Trek's first-ever bad guy. Girl. Guy? (Video stills via Paramount)

Wyllie made a number of appearances on TV when it was in its infancy, only rarely in recurring roles. She is remembered by soap fans for appearances on General Hospital (1963—) and by those who were kiddies in the '60s for her role on The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963—1964), the latter of which starred Kurt Russell (b. March 17, 1951), age 12.

An uncredited (and at the time probably embarrassing!) gig wound up being her most important TV role: Wyllie was Star Trek's (1966—1969) first villain, a “Talosian Keeper” in the 1966 pilot.

Meg-Wyllie-Last-StarfighterWith Catherine Mary Stewart in The Last Starfighter (Image via Universal)

Movie-wise, Wyllie worked sporadically in the medium, interestingly turning up in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964) and the well-reviewed '80s flick The Last Starfighter (1984). One of her final roles in any medium was as “Aunt Lolly” on TV's Mad About You (1992—1999) in 1994—1995.

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Alice-GhostleyI realize I'm obsessed with ages of actors playing family, but she was only nine years older than the man playing her son... (Video still via NBC)

#21

Alice Ghostley as “Stan”'s hard-ass trailer-trash mom “Mrs. Zbornak” in “Mother's Day” (May 7, 1988)

Alice Ghostley (August 14, 1924—September 21, 2007) made everything she was ever in better, and her short sequence on GG was no different. Even in a tiny segment, she sketches out a rather unusual character for her, that of an overbearing mother who pretends to worship her son and to hate her daughter-in-law while secretly feeling embarrassed for him and admiring her.

One sterling exchange:

Stan: “It's from Dorothy, too.”

Mrs. Zbornak: “If I had to thank her, I'd choke on the words.”

Dorothy: “Please risk it.”

Ghostley first received acclaim as one of the New Faces of 1952 on Broadway, along with her look-alike, sound-alike friend, the outrageous Paul Lynde (June 13, 1926—January 10, 1982). Lynde was said to have ripped her off; she bore no ill will and the two were besties until his death.

Somehow, the mannerisms on Ghostley made her ideal for mousy, nervous gossip mavens, while on Lynde they made him edgy and flamboyant. She worked consistently on the stage through the 1970s, winning a Tony.

Alice-Ghostley-Paul_LyndeAppropriately, pictured with Lynde during rehearsals for Stop Thief, Stop! in the '70s (Photo credit pending)

EsmereldaGhostley was a staple on TV, including as one of the evil stepsisters in 1957's Cinderella and as a regular on Captain Nice (1967). But in spite of many TV gigs and a few interesting film appearances — such as in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Graduate (1967), Grease (1978) — she will forever be remembered for two TV roles in particular: That of ditzy “Esmerelda” on Bewitched (1964—1972; pictured at right, image via ABC) from 1969 until it ended and of equally ditzy “Bernice Clifton” on Designing Women (1986—1993), GG's spiritual sister.

Margo-HOffThe Margo Hoff painting “Surprise Party” hung in Lynde's home until he died. It was willed to Ghostley, who kept it until her death. (Image by Margo Hoff)

Ghostley worked until the turn of the century, when her health failed. She and her sister died within two months of each other and were buried side by side.

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  Paula-Kelly-Golden-GirlsMarguerite's been inhaling a little too much Pine-Sol, but at least Sandy Duncan is finally back on TV! (Video still via NBC)

#20

Paula Kelly as Haitian housekeeper “Marguerite Brown” in “The Housekeeper” (October 17, 1987)

Scandalously underused actress and accomplished dancer Paula Kelly (b. October 21, 1943) has a juicy, flashy role in “Marguerite,” a Haitian housekeeper whose sloppy work leads the ladies to regretfully fire her. Some cryptic words from the departing duster make the women fear that she's placed a voodoo spell on her, and several unfortunate occurrences only bolster that harebrained belief.

ABOVE: Kelly as “Satin Doll” on a '70s Richard Pryor TV special. BELOW: Big Spender from Sweet Charity.

Kelly did GG in the years following a short stint on Night Court (1984—1992) in 1984 and on a harrowing Season 4 episode of St. Elsewhere (1982—1988) in which her character and David Morse's (b. October 11, 1953) are raped during a prison riot.

Paula-Kelly-PlayboyDancing—and looking flawless doing it—in Playboy in '69. She danced to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” on the Oscars, but I can't find it! (Image via Playboy)

Her film career includes Bob Fosse's (June 23, 1927—September 23, 1987) Sweet Charity (1969), The Andromeda Strain (1971), Soylent Green (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974), while one of her most important TV credits was as a lesbian in Oprah Winfrey's production of The Women of Brewster Place (1989). But Kelly's biggest impact was on the stage, making her debut 50 years ago alongside Barbara Cook (b. October 25, 1927) in Something More!, winning a London Variety Award for her role in Helene in the '60s and appearing in the 1981 show Sophisticated Ladies with Gregory Hines (February 14, 1946—August 9, 2003) and Phyllis Hyman (July 6, 1949—June 30, 1995), among many other shows.

Sadly, she hasn't worked on TV or in the movies since the '90s.

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Charles-Levin-GGSophia with the fancy man (Video still via NBC)

#19

Charles Levin as “Coco” in “The Engagement” (September 14, 1985)

Charles-LevinCharles Levin (b. March 12, 1949), who played gay housekeeper “Coco,” has the distinction of being the only cast member from the pilot (which became Season 1's first episode, the show's debut) to be dropped. Apparently, the creative powers-that-be felt a male presence in the household disrupted the female bonding and with four brilliant comediennes, having even the witty Levin aboard was unnecessary. He disappeared after the episode, in which “Sophia” calls him a fancy man, and was never referred to again.

Hey, things change—watch this episode and check out how different the performances of the stars are from future performances. “Blanche” isn't even speaking with an accent!

Annie-Hall-Charles-LevinAs he appeared in Annie Hall (Image via United Artists)

Charles_levinLevin was all over TV in the '80s and '90s, but hasn't worked in either medium in over 15 years. He was a semi-regular on Hill Street Blues (1981—1987) in 1982 and on Alice (1976—1985) from 1983—1985. On the latter, his character married Beth Howland's (May 28, 1941—December 31, 2015). He appeared in two of Woody Allen's (b. December 1, 1935) greatest films, Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979), albeit in small roles.

The_brisThe first cut is the deepest. (Video still via NBC)

Probably his greatest TV appearance, one that tops “Coco” (“Coco” wishes...), was his hysterical turn as the nervous mohel in the 1993 episode of Seinfeld (1989—1998) called “The Bris” — who can forget the circumcision of “Jerry”'s finger?

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Roses-Mom-Golden-Girls“Mother!” (Video still via NBC)

#18

Jeanette Nolan as “Rose”'s not-so-fragile mom “Alma Lindstrom” in “Blanche and the Younger Man” (November 16, 1985)

Jeanette Nolan (December 30, 1911—June 5, 1998) was a great choice to be “Rose”'s mom ... as long as you can picture her giving birth at 10 years old! But aside from their closeness in age, Nolan's performance as “Rose”'s mom in an episode named for a “Blanche” plot point is extremely sweet-hearted, but with more edge than “Rose” herself would be likely to show throughout the series ... and a surprising dose of passion!

Jeanette Nolan I SpryNolan could disappear into her characters. (Promo images via respective production companies)

When “Mama Lindstrom” comes to visit, “Rose” can't help treating her like she's 100 years old, worrying over her every move and enforcing mandatory naps. “Alma” resists, telling “Rose” she had more fun that time she broke her hip ice skating, but things soften once “Rose” lays off. “Alma”'s story of an affair she had with an ex-con after her “Rose”'s dad died is truly memorable stuff.

Jeanette_Nolan_in_Macbeth_(1948)Nolan doing Welles for herself (Republic Features)

Nolan was omnipresent in radio and throughout the history of TV, doing countless voices and episodic appearances. She was in two outstanding Twilight Zone episodes (1962—1963), had Jeanette Nolan  The Horse Whisperer (1998)recurring roles on Hotel de Paree (1959—1960) and The Virginian (1963—1970) and made guest appearances on many shows — like Perry Mason (1958—1965) — multiple times as different characters, such was her versatility.

Movie-wise, she gave the big screen a searing “Lady Macbeth” in the 1948 Orson Welles version of the Shakespeare classic (her debut), made an impression in the Fritz Lang noir thriller The Big Heat (1953) and made her final appearance in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer (1998), dying of a stroke the year the latter was released.

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Shawn-ScheppsBut weight, there's more! (Video still via NBC)

#17

Shawn Schepps as “Blanche”'s daughter “Rebecca Devereaux” in “Blanche's Little Girl” (January 9, 1988)

Shawn-ScheppsShawn Schepps (b. July 25, 1961) played “Blanche”'s daughter in a Season 3. “Rebecca” shocks “Blanche” by arriving for a visit having doubled in size, and bringing a ridiculously obnoxious fiancé (played by the fabulously smarmy Joe Regalbuto, b. August 24. 1949) in tow. “Blanche”'s discomfort with her daughter's size is quickly assuaged in light of the fiancé's outrageously nasty fat jokes. All of the ladies get so riled up, and yet it seems only to push “Rebecca” deeper into the arms of a man who can't stop insulting her. In the end, she sees the light...and then the next time we see “Rebecca,” she is being played by slender Debra Engle (no birth/death dates available) in a later season.

I find Schepps's performance to be oddly memorable; her line readings are weirdly muted, almost robotic. Yet it works. It reminds me of the many bad performances of Seinfeld guest stars that nonetheless became beloved over time.

Terminator-1984-shawn-schepps-linda-hamilton-pic-3Schepps (L) in The Terminator. She was once a pupil of long-time Hollywood dancer/actress Dorothy Barrett. (Image via Orion Pictures)

Originally a child actress, Schepps has an eclectic résumé, including appearances in the camp cuh-lassic Paper Dolls (1982) and legit shit like Racing with the Moon (1984) and The Terminator (1984).

She stopped acting in the '90s, only appearing in Encino Woman (1996) because she wrote it, and then making a series of appearances on Weeds (2005), a series to which she also contributed as a writer.

Bb-jillSchepps gives it her all on The Brady Bunch. (Video still via CBS)

1111shawnadfaceInsanely, Schepps was also “Jill” on the “Law and Disorder” (January 12, 1973) episode of The Brady Bunch (1969—1974), a little girl who — again, in a very weird performance — implores “Bobby” to save her kitten from a condemned building.

Shepps is seen in a semi-recent headshot at right.

Even more insanely, Schepps became a successful writer — she wrote Encino Man (1992), Drumline (2002) and episodes of Weeds (2005—2006) and Drop Dead Diva (2009). Are any random GG guest stars nobodies?

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Clayton-Hollingsworth(GIFs via NBC)

#16

Monte Markham as Blanche's gay brother, “Clayton Hollingsworth” in “Scared Straight” (December 10, 1988)

“Blanche” was forever setting up her baby brother — played by Monte Markham (b. June 21, 1935) with women, and always to no avail. When he blurts out that he's just banged “Rose,” “Blanche” loses her shit, calling “Rose” a string of unkind names, and prompting “Rose” to say that while “Blanche” can be very understanding at times, at other times she can be “a real bitch.”

Monte-MarkhamA robotic performance is a good thing when you're playing a cyborg! (Image via ABC)

Markham has worked steadily for decades on stage and on the big and small screens. He was famously a cyborg on The Six Million Dollar Man (1973—1978)He reprised his role as “Clayton” on a 1991 episode of GG.

As pleasingly light in the loafers as he is in the episode, in real life, Markham is straight, and has been married for over 50 years.

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Ruby-DeeI'd walk a million miles for one of Ruby Dee's non-smiles. (Video still via NBC)

#15

Ruby Dee as “Mammy Viola Watkins“  in “Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy” (October 20, 1990)

Dee1The late, great Ruby Dee (October 27, 1922—June 11, 2014) was an inspired choice to play “Blanche Devereaux”'s inevitable childhood mammy. The esteemed actress and civil rights activist brings real star discourse to the otherwise lightweight storyline, in which “Blanche” learns that “Mammy” had a decades-long interracial affair with her recently-deceased, white, Republican (in the South???) father, “Big Daddy.” “Mammy” just wants a music box from “Big Daddy”'s things, but the fact that she disappeared when “Blanche” was 10 without so much as a good-bye leads “Blanche” to Ruby-Dee-artwithhold the music box out of spite. It isn't until she comes to understand the depth of her father's love for “Mammy” (via some love letters plagiarized from Al Jolson) that “Blanche” relents.

At right, the painting of a mural featuring Dee, and a '50s headshot.

Ruby Dee is perfectly charming in the episode, and carries a believably authoritarian air when commanding that “Blanche” sit down and listen to her side of things. Interestingly, she was only 68 in 1990, and Rue McClanahan was 56 — not much of an age spread, so “Big Daddy” definitely liked little mamas.

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Inga-SwensonIs this the face of a woman who legitimately forgot to invite her sister to the damn movies? (Video still via NBC)

#14

Inga Swenson as “Rose”'s jack-ass sister “Holly” in “Little Sister” (April 1, 1989)

Benson_lInga Swenson (b. December 29, 1932), so memorable as the deep-voiced, icy “Kraus” on Benson (1979—1986; pictured at right, image via ABC) is almost unrecognizable as “Rose”'s cunning little sister, “Holly,” a chirpy, personable lady who is nonetheless doing her best to exclude “Rose” from friendly outings during her visit. Worse, “Holly” shamelessly steals one of “Blanche”'s many boyfriends, brazenly making out with him when the women are in the next room. Problem is, “Rose” has complained about “Holly” so much that her roommates feel she's the one with the issue—they don't even wanna hear it when “Rose” catches “Holly” red-handed with “Blanche”'s date, “Gary” (Jerry Hardin, found elsewhere on this list).

GOlden-GIrlsHolly Body (Video still via NBC)

They'll just have to figure “Holly” out for themselves.

For all her recognizability on TV, Swenson started her career on Broadway as one of the New Faces in that famous 1956 show with fellow future luminaries Maggie Smith (b. December 28, 1934) and Jane Connell (October 27, 1925—September 22, 2013), before making a big impression in 1963's 110 in the Shade:

HelenSwenson also had juicy roles in the classic movies The Miracle Worker and Advise and Consent (both 1962). Having made her final stage appearance in the late '70s, the role of “Holly” was one of Swenson's last acting performances of any kind — she appeared on a few more series in the next decade and then retired.

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John-SchuckMay the best woman win! (Video still via NBC)

#13

John Schuck as trans man political candidate “Gil Kessler” in “Strange Bedfellows” (November 7, 1987)

Schuck-Golden-GIrlsJohn Schuck (b. February 4, 1940) plays a local politician for whom the ladies are campaigning, but one who's as boring as pants on toast. In order to spice up his chances, “Kessler” confirms an erroneous report that he has slept with “Blanche.” When “Blanche” denies it, the other girls turn on her — and it ain't pretty.

In the end, “Kessler” confesses his lie ... and admits to having once been part-time stenographer and mild-mannered housewife “Anna Maria Bonaducci.” It's not the most positive use of a transgender plot, but it's harmless overall and was quite rare for an '80s sitcom. The show was also invested in the concept of cross-dressing, thanks to regular mentions of “Dorothy”'s black-sheep brother “Phil.”

Painless_Pole_Waldowski_MASHShuck's MASH character was a latent homosexual ... not that there's anything wrong with it. (Image via 20th Century Fox)

Munsters_Todaytvsinopse0000040079Schuck is one of those guys everyone recognizes, even if he never achieved household-name status. He made a splashy film debut as horse-hung “Captain Waldowski” in Robert Altman's 1970 Oscar-winner M*A*S*H, a role that allegedly made him the first actor to say “fuck” in a major motion picture, and has a long history with the Star Trek series. Since then, he's been all over TV, most memorably as a regular on McMillan & Wife (1971—1977), as “Herman Munster” on The Munsters Today (1988—1991; pictured, video still via MCA) and as a recurring character on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2004—2010).

On a special note, I think Schuck should also be remembered for his performance as a robot in the almost-immediately-canceled Holmes & Yo-Yo (1976—1977).

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GoldenGirls-BlindAmbitions-screenshotThis is how Lily reacts when she misses an episode of St. Elsewhere.

#12

Polly Holliday as “Rose”'s blind sister “Lily” in “Blind Ambitions” (March 29, 1986)

Yumpin' Yimminy ... how many troublesome sisters does Rose have? Polly Holliday (b. July 2, 1937), just a few years past her long stint as “Flo” on Alice (1976—1980) and Flo (1980—1981), plays “Rose”'s stubborn sister “Lily,” a woman who is trying to white-knuckle it through what has become her blindness by acting as if she's as self-sufficent as ever. Nearly burning down “Blanche”'s home is when push comes to shove, leaving “Rose” to present “Lily” with a come-to-Jesus talk.

Flo(GIF via CBS)

H0lliday was a serious stage actress before her indelible performance as “Flo” (hard to believe she didn't win an Emmy for it), and she returned to the stage once “Flo” had overstayed her welcome, doing only a couple of dozen other roles on TV and in the movies after 1981.

Holliday's most noteworthy TV gigs post-Flo include replacing Eileen Brennan on Private Benjamin (1981—1983) for 1982—1983 when Brennan was seriously injured after being struck by a car, and recurring roles on Home Improvement (1993—1999) and The Client (1995—1996).

Eileen-Brennan-Flo-Polly-HollidayFilling in for Brennan (Images via CBS)

Polly-Holliday-as-GremlinsHolliday's most famous film role was as the doomed “Ruby Deagle” in Gremlins (1984; pictured at left, image via Warner Bros.), but she also played “Dardis”'s (Ned Beatty, b. July 6, 1937) secretary in a film acclaimed as one of the best ever made, All the President's Men (1976). Her participation further strengthened her friendship with Dustin Hoffman (b. August 8, 1937) — with whom she'd worked on Broadway — who championed her for a part in Tootsie (1982)...a part that went instead to Doris Belack, a fellow GG guest star who you will find on this very list.

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Aunt_AngelaIs it Angela, or Gina Lollabrigida? (Video still via NBC)

#11

Nancy Walker as “Sophia”'s sister “Angela” in “The Sisters” and “Long Day's Journey into Marinara” (both 1987)

Nancy Walker (May 10, 1922—March 25, 1992) was ideal casting as “Sophia”'s crusty sister “Angela,” who in her first appearance is brought over from Sicily as a surprise. Surprise — “Sophia” hates this bitch. Nancy is equally good in her second episode, in which “Sophia” becomes convinced her sister is trying to steal her boyfriend.

Mary-tyler-moore-show-season-2-5-a-girls-best-mother-is-not-her-friend-rhoda-morgenstern-ida-morgenstern-valerie-harper-nancy-walker“Morganstern” warning (Image via CBS)

19407 - Nancy WalkerLess than five feet tall, Walker was a Broadway and Hollywood singer and hoofer who was the toast of NYC in such hits as Best Foot Forward (1941) and as “Hildy” in On the Town (1944). She had a good run in films, racking up hits before having to readjust to life as a TV guest star, something she mastered.

She became so familiar on TV she was a natural for the role of “Rosie” in a series of Bounty commercials that ran for over a decade.

On TV, she's best known for Family Affair (1970—1971), as “Mildred” on McMillan & Wife (1971—1976), as “Rhoda”'s brassy mom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1971—1976) and Rhoda (1974—1978) and True Colors (1990—1992), the latter of which she worked on right up until her death. I also loved her on her own self-titled series (1976—1977) and on the short-lived Blansky's Beauties (1977).

Walker segued successfully into directing for television, but bombed spectacularly as the director of the feature film Can't Stop the Music (198o), the impossibly campy, ill-timed disco epic starring Caitlyn né Bruce Jenner, Valerie Perrine and the Village People.

She died of lung cancer at just 69.

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HallieTodd“If you've got a stallion eatin' oats outta your hand, best close the gate before givin' 'im the sugah!” (Video still via NBC)

#10

Hallie Todd as “Blanche”'s slutty niece “Lucy” on “Nice and Easy” (February 1, 1986)

LucyWhen “Blanche”'s young niece arrives for a visit and for an interview at a college, she announces she met a gorgeous, single doctor on the plane, one with whom she's made a date for 30 minutes after landing. She goes on a midnight cruise with the doctor and falls in love with him, only to dump him for a date with her university interviewer. “Lucy” then flies to the Bahamas . ..but returns with a hilariously cheesy, Miami Vice (1984—1989)-inspired law-enforcement agent. As “Sophia” summarizes:

Pretty blunt for TV in 1986. But not untrue.

The-offspringDelightfully played by a perky Hallie Todd (b. January 7, 1962), “Lucy” really throws “Blanche” for a loop — and brings out the protective, maternal side of the original good time had by all of Greater Miami.

Todd's worked in TV since 1980, and has had several impactful roles. She had a recurring, award-nominated part on Showtime's ground-breaking, gay-themed Brothers (1984—1989), appeared several times on Murder, She Wrote (1984—1996) between '89 and '91 and played “Data”'s daughter “Lal” on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987—1994; pictured at right, image via Paramount) in 1990.

Lizmcg1hd01“Lucy” & “Lizzie” (Image via Disney Channel)

But her true claim to fame is as “Lizzie McGuire”'s (2001—2004) mom on the Disney Channel hit of the same name, a show that turned Hilary Duff (b. September 28, 1987) into a tween-household name. Todd was so outstanding in the role she was cited by CNN as one of TV's all-time most memorable moms. In my book, she's also one of TV's all-time most memorable, and least obvious-looking, sluts.

Hallie-Todd-Ann-Morgan-GuilbertTodd & late mom Guilbert hosted Growing up on Familytime, an '80s Showtime festival of programs dealing with family-related problems.

Perhaps the most OMG! bit of trivia about Todd is that she's the real-life daughter of Ann Morgan Guilbert (October 16, 1928—June 14, 2016) — “Millie” on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961—1966) and “Grandma Yetta” on The Nanny (1993—1999) — and producer/writer/director George Eckstein (May 3, 1928—September 12, 2009), who, among many other accomplishments, wrote the famous final episode of The Fugitive (1963—1967) in 1967.

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Geraldine-FitzgeraldOf St. Olaf, she says it's a lovely little town with rolling hills and charming homes...full of idiots. (Video still via NBC)

#9

Geraldine Fitzgerald as “Anna in “Mother's Day” (May 7, 1988) and as “Martha Lamont” in “Not Another Monday” (November 11, 1989)

Geraldine Fitzgerald (November 24, 1913—July 17, 2005) was one of many distinguished actors from Hollywood's Golden Age who made appearances on GG, some of whom make my list and some
of whom just weren't interesting enough on the show to rate in the Top 40 for me.

Geraldine-Fitzgerald-Golden-Girls-episodeIn “Mother's Day,” for which Fitzgerald became one of only nine guest stars to receive an Emmy nomination, she lands solid laughs and tugs heartstrings as an elderly woman who escapes her nursing home to make a pilgrimage to her daughter's grave, with a little help from “Rose.”

In “Not Another Monday,” she plays a friend of “Sophia”'s in search of assistance in committing suicide. “Sophia” wants to help her friend, but feels suicide is a sin —  and decides it's up to her to talk her friend out of it.

Geraldine_Fitzgerald_in_Dark_Victory_trailer(Image above and below left via Warner Bros.)

BETTEDAVISDARKVICTORY-VIIThe petite actress made her film debut in 1934, appearing in a string of quality films immediately upon emigrating to the U.S. from Ireland. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Wuthering Heights (1939) and appeared in Dark Victory with Bette Davis (April 5, 1908—October 6, 1989, she discusses Davis here) that same year. She was also in Shining Victory (1941), Watch on the Rhine (1943) and So Evil My Love (1948).

S-l1600Fetching young thing in the '30s (Image by George Hurrell)

Having acquired a reputation as a choosy artiste in the realm of films, from the 1950s onward, she was active in television, often in prestigious dramatic roles.

Adfasdfauhjj0In the (Wuthering) Heights (GIF via United Artists)

Her comedy chops were present in such appearances as Harry and Tonto (1974), playing Madeline Kahn's (September 29, 1942—December 3, 1999) mother in Oh Madeline (1983—1984) in 1984, slumming in Rodney Dangerfield's (November 22, 1921—October 5, 2004) Easy Money (1983) and making the scene in both of the Arthur movies (1981 & 1988), the latter of which was the target of a “Sophia” zinger on a GG episode.

OriginalInforming Dudley Moore that “Burt Johnson” has their family by the nuts (Warner Bros.)

Geraldine-Fitzgerald1Her first success had come on the stage, acting alongside Orson Welles (May 6, 1915—October 10, 1985)  in 1938, and she remained active in the medium well into her later years, including directing the show Mass Appeal (1982), which starred newcomer Eric Roberts (b. April 18, 1956); it also featured Milo O'Shea (June 2, 1926—April 2, 2013), who appeared in the “Charlie's Buddy” episode of GG in 1987) — for which she was nominated for a Tony. (Her son, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, b. May 5, 1940, is also a Tony-nominated director, and directed The Normal Heart Off-Broadway and the AIDS-themed TV movie As Is in 1986. Lindsay-Hogg has asserted that while his mother never admitted it, his biological father was Welles.)

02WITCHEL1-popupMichael Lindsay-Hogg at age 18 (Image via Michael Lindsay-Hogg)

After her two turns on GG, Fitzgerald made one more TV movie in 1991, her only work in the '90s, before retiring. Unfortunately, she battled Alzheimer's disease for the last 10 years of her life; in 1985, she had played Joanne Woodward's (b. February 27, 1930) mother in the Alzheimer's-themed TV drama Do You Remember Love?

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Freida-ClaxtonA woman so vile she'll lie just to get the danish (Video still via NBC)

#8

Nan Martin as “Freida Claxton” in “It's a Miserable Life” (November 1, 1986)

Nan Martin (July 15, 1927—March 4, 2010) was one of the greatest villains on GG, sort of like the “Wicked Witch” to “Rose”'s “Dorothy.” In her first appearance on the show, Martin played “Freida Claxton,” a grouchy neighbor who could not care less that an ancient tree is about to be chopped down, a pet cause for the household. (No word on “Claxton”'s position on the proposed outdoor Menudo concert.) “Rose” tries to bribe “Claxton” with some homemade danish, but when the old battle-axe double-crosses the ladies, she buys herself an epic smack-down from — of all people — kind-hearted “Rose,” who tells her to drop dead.

Which she does.

Nan-Martin-old-youngMartin early and late in her life and career (Images via headshots)

A month later, a character she played on The Hogan Family (1986—1990) also dropped dead inconveniently. The woman was an expert at dramatic exits.

Nan-Martin-1979Martin was an accomplished stage actress who earned a 1959 Tony nomination for her work in J.B. and whose performance in a Chicago production of Three Tall Women was said to have been one of her best in any medium. On TV, she appeared on the a 1963 episode of Twilight Zone and was a semi-regular on The Drew Carey Show (1995—1999). In the movies, she had the distinction of playing mother to both Ali MacGraw (in 1969's Goodbye, Columbus) and “Freddy Krueger” (in 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors).

Martin is pictured in a '70s headshot at left.

Drew-CareyAs “Mrs. Lauder” with Drew Carey (Image via ABC)

Martin reappeared on GG in the 1989 episode entitled “Foreign Exchange” as a Sicilian friend of “Sophia”'s who may or may not be “Dorothy”'s birth mother. The physical casting in that one was delicious, even if Martin was only five years older than Arthur.

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Barbara-ThorndykeBarbara Thorndyke, author of the best-selling novel So Dark the Waves on Biscayne Bay. Sorry—writer, not author. Malamud's an author. (Video still via NBC)

#7

Bonnie Bartlett as “Barbara Thorndyke in “Dorothy's New Friend (January 16, 1988)

Golden-GIrls-Barbara-ThorndykeBonnie Bartlett (b. June 20, 1929) takes the cake for creating one of the most obnoxious characters ever to appear on GG, and one who very nearly drove a wedge between the roommates. As “Barbara Thorndyke,” a local author portrayed hilariously as both somewhat elite and a laughable hack, she pulls “Dorothy” into her thrall by reminding her of her lack of intellectual stimulation from “Blanche” and “Rose.” The two become thick as thieves, but “Barbara”'s disdain for the other women is too apparent to them and not apparent to “Dorothy” at all. It isn't until a group trip to the restructed Mortimer Club brings out “Barbara”'s passive anti-Semitism that “Dorothy” realizes her new friend is a narrow-minded snob.

Bonnie-Bartlett-William-DanielsBartlett as a young babe, on Little House & with hubby Daniels (images via headshot; NBC;  via Pinterest)

In the episode, when Dorothy mentions that Barbara is taking her to the experimental theater space downtown, Blanche initiates a memorable exchange:

Blanche: “Somebody dragged me to a show there one time. Three men paraded around the stage for five hours talkin' about God, eatin' Graham crackers. They wore masks to cover their faces, but other than that they were totally naked.”

Rose: “And you stayed through the whole evening?”

Blanche: “Well, I would've left, but one of the actors looked so familiar to me.”

Crepes of Wrath The Old Man and the Seafood SaladMiami's intelligentsia can hardly decide between the Crepes of Wrath and the Old Man & the Seafood Salad. (Video still via NBC)

Bartlett is quite well known in her own right for many TV roles, including on Little House on the Prairie (1974—1983) from '74—'79, Home Improvement (1991—1999), '95—'98, Boy Meets World (1993—2000) '97—'99 and especially her Emmy-winning turn on St. Elsewhere (1982—1988).

She has been married to TV veteran and St. Elsewhere co-star William Daniels (b. March 31, 1927) for over 60 years.

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Eddie golden girlsWho can resist that sexy thing he's doing with his lip? (Video still via NBC)

#6

John Fiedler as Eddie in “Love Me Tender” (February 6, 1989)

Fiedler_bewitchedJohn Fiedler (February 3, 1925—June 25, 2005) brings that je ne sais quoi to “Eddie,” a stubby bald guy “Dorothy” goes out with even though she seems to have nothing in common with him. Not only do they go out, “Dorothy” goes all in — she gets deeply involved with plain-looking “Eddie” because he has a quality that's irresistible to women: Is it the sexy way he loosens a poppy seed from his teeth, his adorable ears, that peculiar scent that's a combination of Old Spice, musk and a Porterhouse steak? Whatever it is, “Eddie”'s got the ability to drive women—including all of the females in the Golden Girls household — wild. 

At right, images via United Artists & ABC.

Fiedler_12Fiedler was ubiquitous on TV and in the movies from the 1950s on. He's familiar for appearances on The Odd Couple (play, movie and series, 1960s—1970s), The Bob Newhart Show (1972—1978), as the mailman on The Munsters (1964—1966) in '64 and as a semi-regular on the canceled-too-soon Buffalo Bill (1983—1984). Most prestigiously, Fiedler was shaky “Juror #2” in the classic film 12 Angry Men (1957), which came in at #87 on AFI's 1998 list of the greatest films of all time.

PokerplayersFiedler (L) in the movie version of The Odd Couple (1970—1975), in which he recreated his stage role. Yes, “Stanley Zbornak” is (R). (GIF via ABC)

However, Fiedler is immortal for voicing “Piglet” in the Winnie the Pooh films, beginning with 1968's Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Interestingly, he died only one day after Paul Winchell (December 21, 1922—June 24, 2005), the man who originally voiced “Tigger.”

Mr. Fiedler was a confirmed bachelor.

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Lois-Nettleton-Golden-Girls-lesbianShe's really quite fond of “Rose.” (Video still via NBC)

#5

Lois Nettleton as as “Dorothy”'s dyke pal “Jean” on “Isn't It Romantic?” (November 8, 1986)

Betty-WhiteWhen “Dorothy”'s old friend comes to crash with the women for a spell, her lesbianism becomes an issue ... especially considering her passionate crush on “Rose,” of all people. This leads to one of the show's funniest lines ever, when “Blanche” confuses lesbian with Lebanese and asks, “Isn't Danny Thomas one?”

“Jean” having the hots for “Rose” is a development that “Blanche” finds untenable:

Lois Nettleton (August 16, 1927—January 18, 2008) was one of my favorite TV actresses, a lovely and multi-faceted Emmy-winning pro (she was nominated for her turn on GG) whose credits, going back over 60 years, could choke IMDb and who appeared on many classic shows. Nettleton appeared on many seminal television drama showcases, including Studio One in Hollywood (1949—1956), Armstrong Circle Theatre (1958), Camera Three (1955—1958) and Kraft Theatre (1958).

Tumblr_lhjl7pKNLR1qgqj2zo1_400(GIF via CBS)

Alongside Betty Garde (September 9, 1905—December 25, 1989), Nettleton gave one of the finest performances in the history of The Twilight Zone, on that show's uncomfortable 1961 “The Midnight Sun” episode, in which two women sizzle as the planet slips out of orbit, plummeting toward the sun and into increasingly unbearable heat. Her last public appearance was at a Twilight Zone fan convention.

022_nettleton_seinfeldNettleton caught George Costanza eating an eclair out of the garbage in a 1994 Seinfeld episode. (Image via NBC)

The Tony nominee's first Broadway show was in 1949, followed by the original production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which she understudied “Maggie the Cat.” She had an eclectic film career, everything from appearing as an extra in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and with Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).

Hqdefault(Image via CBS)

Last, but not least, Lois Nettleton was one of the best celeb players ever to appear on The $25,000 Pyramid! (1973—1988)

106_Lois_and_ShepIMDb asserts that Nettleton's GG character was named for her ex-husband, radio humorist Jean Shepherd (July 26, 1921—October 16, 1999), the man who would go on to write the '80s classic movie A Christmas Story (1983) ... and lend his voice to it as the narrator.

Lois & Jean pictured in an undated personal photo at right.

Nettleton died of lung cancer.

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Freddie-Peterson-Golden-GirlsRealizing the other girls know who “Freddie Peterson is... (Video still via NBC)

#4

Leslie Nielsen as “Lucas Hollingsworth” in “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest” (May 9, 1992)

Dorothy-Golden-GirlsMost shows totally lose their mojo by the time they're wrapping, but with a little help from inspired guest star Leslie Nielsen (February 11, 1926—November 28, 2010) as “Blanche”'s uncle “Lucas.” “Lucas” and “Dorothy” pretend to fall in love just to get under “Blanche”'s skin, but in the course of their acting, it turns real, ending with a touching proposal and a Golden Girls wedding ... at which “Dorothy” wears a wedding dress “the Bride of Frankenstein” would find tacky.

Tumblr_lcmjxaXYTu1qbpgppo1_500Nielsen is of course famous for the Airplane! and Naked Gun movies. (GIF via Paramount)

I rank Nielsen so highly because of his seamless transition into the cast, his convincing chemistry with Bea Arthur and, of course, due to the fact that “Dorothy” and “Lucas” had such great sex we named it! (It was named “Freddie Peterson.”)

Leslie_NielsenLet's face it: Nielsen was a hot piece. (Image by Alan Light)

Speaking of Nielsen, the ratings for the finale were spectacular — over 27 million people watched, making it one of the Top 20 series finales of all time.

Nielsen died of pneumonia. His epitaph: “Let 'er rip.” 

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Golden-Girls“Get real, Grandma!” (Video still via NBC)

#3

Jenny Lewis as “Daisy” the Sunshine Cadet in “Old Friends” (September 19, 1987)

Photo-credit-autumn-de-wilde-extralarge_1402616346706
Jenny Lewis (b. January 8, 1976)
surely owns one of the most memorable one-offs in GG history.

When the girls decide to clean house to donate unwanted goods to charity, their local chapter of the Sunshine Cadets is on hand to help. “Blanche” makes the colossally bad decision to give away Rose's (remarkably new-looking) childhood toy teddy bear “Fernando” to “Daisy,” one of the most chipper of the Cadets. When she's asked to return the bear, Daisy shows her true colors, holding “Fernando” for ransom (a 10-speed Schwinn), mailing one of his ears to “Blanche” and setting the stage for one of Betty White's funniest moments on the entire series — it's an ass-kicking the kid never saw coming.

She also received one of Bea Arthur's best-ever rants:

Daisy-Golden-Girls“Listen, Daisy, I don't like being intimidated, I do not like being threatened, and frankly, kid, I don't like you. And I am not gonna buy you anything, and I'm going to tell your folks what you are doing, and then I'm going to call The School for Bad Girls and they will come and pick you up and put you in a sack and take you away and you will never eat ice cream or play jump rope again.”

Jenny-lewis-2Lewis, who is now pushing 40: Sunshine Cadets really rock! (Image via Warner Bros.)

Many famous people made appearances on GG, but not all of them were well known until after the fact. Jenny Lewis made many TV appearances—including being a series regular on Brooklyn Bridge (1991—1993) — but made her biggest impact when she formed the rock band Rilo Kiley, which ran from 1998 to 2011.

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Tumblr_n3pqbh2wvR1txfirco1_500Pre-“Miles,” Gould was the man who decided to roll the dice and have sex with “Rose.” (Video still via NBC)

#2

Harold Gould as “Miles Webber” in 12 episodes (1989—1992)

Harold Gould (December 10, 1923—September 11, 2010), a familiar face on TV and in the movies, first popped up on GG in 1985, playing “Arnie,” “Rose”'s first lover after the death of her husband in the great “Rose the Prude” episode. But it was his return as “Miles” that made him like an unofficial series regular, playing the perfect match for “Rose.” “Miles,” an intellectual (as highlighted in 1989's “Dancing in the Dark”), loves “Rose” in spite of her bubbleheaded St. Olaf stories ... and in spite of his nasty daughter's demands (in 1990's “Triple Play”) that they stop seeing each other. His status as the ideal man was later shattered when it was revealed he'd been living in the witness protection program — he was really “Nicolas Carbone,” an accountant for the Mob.

RoseandMilesMetaphor keeps (Video still via NBC)

Gould was a staple of television, appearing on just about every major show from the '50s to the '80s, including Hogan's Heroes (1965—1971, as three different generals on eps from '66 to '70), playing seven different characters in seven different seasons), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970—1977) '72—'73 and Rhoda Harold_gould_sting(1974—1978, as “Rhoda”'s dad), Hawaii Five-O (1968—1980) '72—'75 , Soap (1977—1981) '77 and as the series star of The Feather and Father Gang (1976—1977).

He played “Howard Cunningham” on the 1972 episode of Love, American Style (1969—1974) that was later spun off into Happy Days (1974—1984) — but Tom Bosley took the role for the series. He helped Katharine Hepburn (May 12, 1907—June 29, 2003) cougar it up in 1986's Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry, for which both received Emmy nominations, and was memorable in the classic 1973 film The Sting.

He passed away from prostate cancer.

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Stan-Zbornak“You're awesome, babe, absolutely awesome.” (Video still via NBC)

#1

Herb Edelman as “Stanley Zbornak” in 26 episodes (1985—1992)

Herb Edelman (November 5, 1933—July 21, 1996) gets top honors, and not only because he holds the record for the most appearances on the show by a non-regular cast member, but because of his hilarious, Emmy-worthy [he was nominated in 1987 and in 1988, for “The Stan Who Came to Dinner” (January 10, 1987) and one of his best turns, in “The Audit” (November 28, 1987)] portrayal of the lovable idiot who got “Dorothy” pregnant (possibly while she was totally unconscious) in the back seat of a car, thus ruining her life. At least, according to “Sophia.”

Stan-Zbornak-Golden-Girls

EdelmanEdelman's chemistry with Bea Arthur—he the morally challenged doofus, she the self-righteous stand-up gal—was undeniable, and led to some of the show's funniest moments and episodes.

Edelman was memorable in the film version of Barefoot in the Park (1967) and The Odd Couple (1968), in the racy Steambath on PBS in 1973 with Valerie Perrine, on the short-lived TV series verison of Nine to Five (1982—1983) and in a stretch on Murder She Wrote (1984—1996) from '92—'95 as “Lt. Artie Gelber,” but he will always be remembered as an unofficial regular on The Golden Girls, the n'er-do-well who finally gets it right, letting “Dorothy” marry “Lucas” in the final episode without raising any objections and spoiling their romantic ceremony.

Tumblr_mlj0q1KFqr1s97fv7o1_250(GIF via NBC)

One of my other favorite “Stan” episodes is “Ebbtide VI: The Wrath of Stan” (February 15, 1991), when “Dorothy” must stay with him in a vermin-infested apartment building she unknowingly owned with him.

Tumblr_mj2j6sASJF1r2jnbbo1_500Slam-dunked (GIF via NBC)

The role of “Stanley” probably had such long legs thanks, in part, to Edelman's killer work on his very first episode, “Guess Who's Coming to the Wedding?” (September 21, 1985), in which “Dorothy” has to get over her hatred of “Stan” in order to move on with her life. The episode establishes “Dorothy”'s penchant for slamming the door in “Stan”'s face and ribbing him about his magic hair. “Dorothy”'s speech to “Stan” is classic:

42709_dorothy_zbornak_m“You walked on me, Stanley Zbornak. You walked out on me and you didn't even have the decency to tell me you were leaving. I heard it from some lawyer over the telephone. A stranger, Stanley—a total stranger!—told me that my marriage was over. Things happened...you're damn right things happened, Thirty-eight years happened. Thirty-eight years of sharing and, and crying, and dreaming and fighting and loving and, and children and diapers and, and school plays and Little League and worrying if you'd get through your gall bladder surgery and wondering if I'd get through another Sunday dinner at your mother's house. And the lean years, when the business failed. And the good years. And the happy Christmases. All those things happened, Stanley, and because they happened, I deserved better than a stinking phone call from my husband's legal representative. You had a choice, Stanley, and you took the easy way out and it was a rotten thing to do. But now you're here in front of me and you can't run away, and I finally get to have what you tried to cheat me out of—I finally get to say good-bye, Stanley...I said good-bye, Stanley.”

And scene!

Tumblr_mjl0n4MUUM1r2jnbbo1_500One of TV's happiest unhappy couples (GIF via NBC)

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Honorable mentions:

#41 Raye Birk (b. May 27, 1943) as the wedding planner who was ready to fly right out of there in “Sophia's Wedding: Part 1” (November 19, 1988)

 

 #42 Brenda Vaccaro (b. November 18, 1939) as “Sophia”'s beleaguered daughter-in-law “Angela Petrillo” (December 15, 1990)

 

#43 McLean Stevenson (November 14, 1927—February 15, 1996) as “Stan”'s slimy brother “Dr. Theodore 'Ted' Zbornak” in “Brotherly Love” (November 14, 1987)

 

#44 Burt Reynolds (b. February 11, 1936) as himself in “Ladies of the Evening” (October 4, 1986)

 

#45 Jerry Orbach (October 20, 1935—December 28, 2004) as “Dorothy”'s married-man loverboy “Glen O'Brien” (part 2) in “Cheaters” (March 24, 1990)

 

#46 Sid Melton (May 22, 1917—November 3, 2011) as the love of “Sophia”'s life, “Salvatore Petrillo,” in various episodes (1987—1991)

 

#47 Richard McKenzie (b. June 7, 1932) as amorous ex-con “Jack” in “Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy” (October 20, 1990)

 

#48 Pat McCormick (June 30, 1927—July 29, 2005) as the indiscreet condom salesman in “Valentine's Day” (February 11, 1989)

 

#49 Kevin McCarthy (February 15, 1914—September 1, 2010) as “Blanche”'s rich and fertile suitor in “Second Motherhood” (February 15, 1986)

 

#50 Keye Luke (June 18, 1904—January 12, 1991) as “Sophia”'s non-English-speaking gardener pal “Toshiro Mitsumo” in “Vacation” (November 29, 1986)

 

#51 Terry Kiser (b. August 1, 1939) as the gun-toting “Santa Claus” on '“Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas” (December 20, 1986) and as “Dorothy”'s Beatle-impersonator trick “Don” on “The Commitments” (January 25, 1992)

 

#52 Scott Jacoby (b. November 26, 1956) as “Dorothy”'s slacker son “Michael Zbornak” in various episodes (1986—1989)

 

#53 Charles Hill (b.?) as “Blanche”'s nearly-five-years-younger beau “Dirk” in “Blanche and the Younger Man” (November 16, 1985)

 

#54 Jack Gilford (July 25, 1908—June 2, 1990) as “Sophia”'s old pal/betrothed “Max Weinstock” in various episodes (1988—1990)

 

#55 George Grizzard (April 1, 1928—October 2, 2007) as “Blanche”'s bro-in-law “Jamie Devereaux” in “That Old Feeling” (November 18, 1989) and as her late husband “George” in “Mrs. George Devereaux” (November 17, 1990)

 

#56 Jane Dulo (October 13, 1917—May 22, 1994) as “Myrtle,” who attends “Sophia”'s fake funeral and feels it was very selfish of “Sophia” not to be dead in “Journey to the Center of Attention” (February 22, 1992)

 

#57 Bob Dishy (b. January 12, 1934) as the terrifically frazzled “Mr. Terrific” on “Mister Terrific” (April 30, 1988)

 

#58 Sonny Bono (February 16, 1935—January 5, 1998) as himself in “Mrs. George Devereaux” (November 17, 1990)

 

#59 Chick Vennera (b. March 27, 1947) as bad investment/prizefighter “Pepe” in “Fiddler on the Ropes” (March 4, 1989) and “Rose”'s supercilious boss “Enrique Mas” in “Rose Fights Back” (October 21, 1989) and “All That Jazz” (December 2, 1989)

 

#60 Lyle Waggoner (b. April 13, 1935) as himself in “Mrs. George Devereaux” (November 17, 1990)

 

#61 Joe Seneca (January 14, 1919—August 15, 1996) as the elderly man with Alzheimer's in “Old Friends” (September 19, 1987)

 

#62 Mario Lopez (b. October 10, 1973) as immigrant essayist in “Dorothy's Prized Pupil” (March 14, 1987) 

 

#63 Betty Garrett (May 23, 1919—February 12, 2011) as terminally practical “Sara” in “Old Boyfriends” (January 4, 1992) 

 

#64 Don Ameche (May 31, 1908—December 6, 1993) as “Rose”'s biological pop in “Once in St. Olaf” (September 29, 1990)

 

#65 Christina aka Christine Belford (b. January 14, 1949) as “Rose”'s testy daughter “Kirsten” in “The Truth Will Out” (January 18, 1986)

 

#66 Ken Berry (b. November 3, 1933) as “Rose”'s maybe/maybe-not old BF “Thor Anderson” in “Old Boyfriends” (January 4, 1992)

 

#67 Tim Thomerson (b. April 8, 1946) as “Blanche”'s lingerie-friendly baseball player “Stevie” in “Where's Charlie?” (October 19, 1991)

 

#68 Mickey Rooney (September 23, 1920—April 6, 2014) as “Sophia”'s tough-guy boyfriend “Rocco” in “Larceny and Old Lace” (February 27, 1988)

 

#69 Donnelly Rhodes (b. December 4, 1937) as “Blanche”'s blue-collar soulmate “Jake Smollens” in “Diamond in the Rough” (March 21, 1987)

 

#70 Lisa Jane Persky (b. May 5, 1955) as “Dorothy”'s getting-married daughter “Kate” in “Guess Who's Coming to the Wedding?” (September 21, 1985)

 

#71 John McMartin (November 18, 1929—July 6, 2016) as “Dorothy”'s priest crush “Father Frank Leahy” in “Forgive Me, Father” (February 14, 1987)

 

#72 Mark Moses (b. February 24, 1958) as the bastard son of “George Devereaux” in “An Illegitimate Concern” (February 12, 1990)

 

#73 Alan King (December 26, 1927—May 9, 2004) as “Blanche”'s life-and-death love interest “Mel Bushman” in “Melodrama” (February 16, 1991)

 

#74 Bob Hope (May 29, 1903—July 27, 2003) as himself in “You Gotta Have Hope” (February 25, 1989)

 

#75 Deena Freeman (b. February 11, 1956) as “Dorothy”'s cheated-on daughter “Kate” in “Son-on-Law Dearest” (April 11, 1987)

 

#76 The Del Rubio Triplets (Edie Del Rubio, August 23, 1921—December 16, 1996; Elena Del Rubio, August 23, 1921—March 19, 2001; Milly Del Rubio, August 23, 1921—July 21, 2011) as the ultra-talented “Donatello Triplets” in “You Gotta Have Hope” (February 25, 1989)

 

#77 Rosalind Cash (December 31, 1981—October 31, 1995) as “Dorothy”'s long-in-the-tooth daughter-in-law “Lorraine Wagner Zbornak” in “Mixed Blessings” (March 19, 1988)

 

#78 Christopher Daniel Barnes (b. November 7, 1972) as not-so-bright star football player “Kevin Kelly” in “Feelings (October 27, 1990)

 

#79 Joe Alfasa (December 13, 1914—March 15, 2014) as “Sophia”'s beau “Tony” in “Long Day's Journey into Marinara” (February 21, 1987)

 

#80 Eddie Bracken (February 7, 1915—November 14, 2002) as “Rose”'s jazzy old lover “Buzz Mueller” in “Twice in a Lifetime” (February 24, 1990)

 

#81 Keone Young (b. September 6, 1947) as “Dorothy”'s chronic-fatigue diagnoser “Dr. Chang” in “Sick and Tired: Part 2” (September 30, 1989) and as “Mr. Tanaka,” whose preparedness makes “Dorothy” realize that we'll never beat “you people” in “Rose: Portrait of a Woman” (March 7, 1992)

 

#82 Douglas Seale (October 28, 1913—June 13, 1999) as magician “The Great Alfonso aka Seymour” in “You Gotta Have Hope” (Fevbruary 25, 1989) and as “Sophia”'s roomie “Malcolm in “Twice in a Lifetime” (February 24, 1990)

 

#83 Casey Sander (b. July 6, 1956) as “Rose”'s lovestruck cousin “Sven” in “A Visit from Little Sven” (November 21, 1987)

 

#84 Alex Rocco (February 29, 1936—July 18, 2015) as “Dorothy”'s married-man loverboy “Glen O'Brien” (part 1) in “That Was No Lady” (December 21, 1985)

 

#85 Debbie Reynolds (April 1, 1932—December 28, 2016) as potential new roomie “Truby Steele” in “There Goes the Bride: Part 2” (February 9, 1991)

 

#86 Marian Mercer (November 26, 1935—April 27, 2011) as “Stan”'s commie cuz “Magda” in “Sisters and Other Strangers” (March 3, 1990)

 

#87 Martin Mull (b. August 18, 1943) as '60s shut-in “Jimmy” in “Snap Out of It” (October 13, 1990)

 

#88 Jessica Lundy (b. March 20, 1966) as “Blanche”'s daughter “Janet” in “Home Again, Rose: Part 1” (April 25, 1992) & “Home Again, Rose: Part 2” (May 2, 1992)

 

#89 Steve Landesberg (November 23, 1936—December 20, 2010) as nutty therapist “Dr. Halperin” on “Mother Load” and “The Monkey Show” (both 1991)

 

#90 John Dennis Johnston (b. November 10, 1945) as “Blanche”'s ex-con pen pal “Merrill” in “Mary Has a Little Lamb” (January 6, 1990)

 

#91 John Harkins (September 7, 1932—March 5, 1999) as “Ham Lushbough,” the only man ever to turn his nose up at “Blanche” in “The One That Got Away” (October 29, 1988)

 

#92 Dena Dietrich (b. December 4, 1928) as the second coming of “Gloria Petrillo” in “The Monkey Show” (November 9, 1991)

 

#93 Lee Garlington (b. July 20, 1953) as “Rose”'s suddenly bitchtastic daughter “Kirsten” in “Home Again, Rose: Part 2” (May 2, 1992)

 

#94 Jerry Hardin (b. November 20, 1929) as “Blanche”'s sleazy teacher “Professor Cooper” in “Adult Education” (February 22, 1986) and as “Blanche”'s wayward boyfriend “Gary Tucker” in “Little Sister” (April 1, 1989)

 

#95 Debra Engle (b.?) as “Blanche”'s artificially inseminated daughter “Rebecca Devereaux” in various episodes (1989—1991)

 

#96 Marilyn Jones (b. June 6, 1953) as “Rose”'s sexually liberated daughter “Bridget Nylund” (November 22, 1986)

 

#97 Alex Trebek (b. July 22, 1940) and Merv Griffin (July 6, 1925—August 12, 2007) as themselves in “Questions and Answers” (February 8, 1992)

 

#98 Ellen Albertini Dow (b. November 16, 1913—May 4, 2015) as retirement-home escapee “Lillian” in “Sophia's Choice” (April 15, 1989)

 

#99 Empty Nest and discarded Empty Nest Cast: Paul Dooley (b. February 22, 1928) as “George Corliss” in “Empty Nests” (May 16, 1987); David Leisure (b. November 16, 1950) as skeezy “Oliver/Charley Dietz” in “Empty Nests” (May 16, 1987) and “Questions and Answers” (February 8, 1992); Dinah Manoff (b. January 25, 1958) as “Carol Weston” in two episodes (1991—1992); Kristy McNichol (b. September 11, 1962) as “Barbara Weston” in two episodes (1991—1992); Rita Moreno (b. December 11, 1931) as “Renee Corliss” in “Empty Nests” (May 16, 1987); Richard Mulligan (November 13, 1932—September 26, 2000) as “Dr. Harry Weston” in three episodes (1988—1989); and Park Overall (b. March 15, 1957) as “Laverne Todd” in “Sick and Tired: Part 2” (September 30, 1989) — Moreno and Dooley's characters were dropped from the eventual Empty Nest spin-off

 

#100 Marvin Mitchelson (May 7, 1928—September 18, 2004) as himself in “There Goes the Bride: Part 2” (February 9, 1991)

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