Rue McClanahan, best known and loved as the sassy Southern sex-crazed Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls, died this morning at the age of 76. Her manager told People that McClanahan died around 1 am after suffering a massive stroke and that she was surrounded by her family at the time of her death. She is survived by her sixth husband Morrow Wilson and a son from her first marriage.
As part of America’s most beloved geriatric comedy foursome, McClanahan’s brassy Blanche seduced the men of Miami from 1985 to 1992. In 1987 McClanahan was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Blanche. TV watchers are still enchanted by the former Southern belle, as The Golden Girls remains in syndication and is a cultural icon of the ’80s.
McClanhan is the third of the four Golden Girls to die, making Betty White the only surviving cast member. The heartbroken White, who has lost all three of her cast members in consecutive years, has released a statement on McClanahan’s passing: “Rue was a close and dear friend. I treasured our relationship. It hurts more than I even thought it would, if that’s even possible.”
In the words of The Golden Girls theme song, “thank you for being a friend …” (And for being a man-eater and sassy and shameless and hilarious.) Here are a few of Rue’s best moments as Blanche: