Before The Golden Girls, There Was Maude

Bea Arthur’s two sitcom divas were so different — and eerily similar.

Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur on Maude (Photo: CBS)
Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls (Photo: NBC)

Maude or Dorothy?

I go back and forth on whom I love more, Maude or Dorothy. They were alike in so many ways, and at the same time, so different.

“Mixed Blessings” (Photo: NBC)

But wait. Where have I seen that before?

The disparities between the two sitcom divas were significant, but as I started watching Maude reruns on YouTube six years ago (I was too young during its original run to process much about the series), I kept getting eerie deja vu feelings. Whenever the action entered Maude’s kitchen, I was struck by how much it reminded me of the one in which Dorothy offered that memorable take on 40.

Were Maude Findlay and Dorothy Zbornak actually the same person in different decades and zip codes?

Settle into a comfortable seat on the linai and read on …

“Maude Meets the Duke” (Photo: CBS)
  • Conrad Janis played the host of Beat the Devil in “The Game Show,” season five, episode eight of Maude. (Sounds a bit like “Grab That Dough,” season three, episode 16 of The Golden Girls, no?) He was also the dance-off emcee in “One for the Money” season three, episode two of The Golden Girls.
  • Edward Winter appeared in the Maude episode “The Ecologist” (season six, episode eight) and later as the blind guy Blanche dated on The Golden Girls (season four, episode 12).
  • Craig Richard Nelson, the actor who portrayed the man who played with fire when the girls were held hostage by Santa on Christmas Eve (season two, episode 11) also appeared in “The Gay Bar,” season six, episode nine of Maude.

Fun fact:

Between Maude and The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur starred in the short-lived 1983 sitcom Amanda’s, a U.S. remake of the British classic Fawlty Towers. Playing the owner of a California seaside hotel, Arthur preceded her future Golden Girls roommates in the hospitality business by nine years. Sadly, she stayed in business for only 13 episodes.

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store