Thursday, June 3, 2010

Golden Girls' sassy Rue McClanahan dies of massive stroke

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She was known as Blanche Deveraux, the flirtatious, man-loving swinging senior on the hit NBC series, The Golden Girls. According to her manager, Barbara Lawrence, Rue McClanahan passed away at 1 a.m. this morning from a massive stroke. She was 76.

McClanahan suffered a minor stroke after heart bypass surgery late last year.

McClanahan got her TV start in 1972 as the ditsy Vivian, Bea Arthur's best friend on the hit series, Maude. A decade later, she brought her high-heeled pumps and southern charm to create Blanche, the Golden Girls' self-proclaimed middle-aged sex goddess.

The Golden Girls aired on NBC from 1985-92. Over the series run, Mclanahan garnered four Emmy nominations, finally winning the golden statue in 1987.

Her death leaves 88 year-old Betty White the sole surviving Golden Girl. Co-stars Estelle Getty passed away in 2008 and Bea Arthur died of cancer last year.

"Rue was a close and dear friend," White tells the Insider, according to "It hurts more than I thought it would."

In an interesting twist, Betty White was initially cast as Blanche and McClanahan selected to play dim-witted Rose Nylund. Fearing they were being typecast, with the network's approval they switched parts.

McClanahan was a breast cancer survivor. She successfully underwent treatment in 1997.

Do you have memories or favorite episodes from Golden Girls? Share your thoughts and memories about Rue, Bea Arthur and the other Girls below.

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