The Golden Girls is a hilarious classic sitcom, but many fans might be unfamiliar with its short-lived sequel show attempt, The Golden Palace.
The Golden Girls is a hilarious classic sitcom, but many fans might be unfamiliar with its short-lived sequel show attempt, The Golden Palace. Premiering in 1985 and running through 1992, The Golden Girls focused on the lives of four older women who shared a home in Miami, Florida. The quartet included Dorothy (Bea Arthur), a sharp-tongued divorcee, Rose (Betty White), a charmingly naive farm girl who was recently widowed, Blanche Deveraux (Rue McClanahan), another widow who was famously sex-obsessed, and Sophia (Estelle Getty), Dorothy’s wisecracking elderly mother.
A show centered on female friends in their 50s or older was quite rare when The Golden Girls debuted and is, in fact, still pretty uncommon today. That was likely one reason some first tuned in, as The Golden Girls was unlike anything else on TV, which probably made a good number of potential viewers curious. However, what kept them watching was the fact that Arthur, White, McClanahan, and Getty had excellent chemistry together and were all blessed with top-shelf comic timing.
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Sadly for fans, The Golden Girls ended in 1992 after season 7, despite it still seeming like there was life left in the show. Producers clearly agreed as they went straight to work creating a spinoff designed to continue the group’s adventures, albeit with some changes. Here’s why that happened and why the show didn’t last.
The biggest difference between The Golden Palace and The Golden Girls was, of course, the absence of Bea Arthur’s Dorothy from the cast. While some reports had suggested that Arthur left due to a backstage feud with Betty White, there was never much evidence offered to support that notion. While the two women had differing work styles, they remained civil. What was confirmed was that Arthur told The Golden Girls producers during season 7 that she was ready to end her run playing Dorothy, as she felt there was nothing really left for the characters to do that hadn’t been done. She preferred to leave on a high note instead of dragging things out.
Yet, The Golden Girls was still a big enough hit that White, McClanahan, and Getty had no desire to leave the characters behind. So after Dorothy was written out with a wedding, the house was sold, and the remaining women bought a hotel in Miami. They were then surprised to learn that almost all of the existing staff had been fired to cut costs prior to their purchase, leaving the ladies to run the place themselves, with the help of hotel manager Roland (Don Cheadle) and chef Chuy (Cheech Marin). This was one of future MCU star Cheadle’s first big roles. Notably, one Golden Palace episode saw Roland confront southern belle Blanche about her fondness for displaying the Confederate flag, leading to a conversation that’s still shockingly relevant all these years later.
Ratings for The Golden Palace started off strong, but viewership quickly fell off, and not even a two-episode return by Dorothy could salvage things. However, CBS, who had outbid The Golden Girls original network, NBC, for the rights to The Golden Palace, actually came very close to renewing the sequel for season 2. At one point, the network officially did so before changing its mind by the time the upcoming fall schedule had been announced. In the end, The Golden Palace only aired 24 episodes.
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