The Golden Girls Were Stunningly Beautiful When They Were Younger

The Golden Girls is one of television's most beloved, enduring, and endearing sitcoms of all time. The show focuses on four women "of a certain age" sharing a home in 1980s Miami, and it was relatable to all viewers — a decade before Sex and the City came along to ask, "Are you a Charlotte or a Samantha?" Of course, the TV series would be nothing without the sharp-tongued, quick-witted repartee between the four stars: Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, and Estelle Getty as Dorothy's mother, Sophia Petrillo. The actors created four three-dimensional characters for generations to admire.

We all love the perpetually upbeat Betty White, who, at 98 years old, is now the sole remaining Golden Girl. But how much do we know about all of the Golden Girls' pasts? Below, get to know the stars before the sitcom. To quote Sophia, "picture this."

Betty White got her start in the early days of television

Prior to The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, Betty White began her decades-spanning career soon after she graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1939, beginning with an experimental channel in Los Angeles. It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s, however, that she first made a name for herself on TV. She started as a co-host of Hollywood on Television, Britannica reported, and later became the host.

Speaking to the White House in 2012, White said of her first job: "It taught me whatever else I did for the rest of my life, I wanted to stay in that business."

She quickly became a pioneer for women in the entertainment industry, starring in her first sitcom, Life With Elizabeth, in 1952 — which she also co-produced. The show landed the comedic actor her first Emmy Award.

Bea Arthur once starred in her own sitcom

Bea Arthur scored a guest spot on All in the Family in 1971, playing Edith Bunker's outspoken, liberal cousin Maude — a great foil for the ultra-conservative Archie Bunker. The two went head-to-head in the episode, which Arthur later called "wonderful fun" in an interview with Pop Goes The Culture. She was initially nervous about the role, she said, because creator Norman Lear was such a good friend that she didn't want to dislike the part.

Needless to say, Arthur loved the role — so much so that she went on to play the part for six years on her own sitcom, Maude, of course playing the titular character.

Arthur recalled that after her part on All in the Family, she so wowed a television executive that he immediately wanted to create a series around her. And that's how she landed her own sitcom. "'Who is that girl? Let's give her her own show,'" Arthur remembered. "A couple weeks later, there I was in my own series, Maude. And it was so exciting. So exciting."

Funnily enough, she also acted alongside her future Golden Girls co-star Rue McClanahan, who played Maude's best friend, Vivian.

Rue McClanahan was married six times

Rue McClanahan's portrayal of the overly dramatic, nymphomaniac Blanche Devereaux earned her three Emmy nominations and one win. While  McClanahan's incredible talent and perfect comedic timing undoubtedly helped bring her character to life, perhaps it was also a case of art imitating life.

"People always ask me if I'm like Blanche. Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern belle from Atlanta — and I'm not from Atlanta," she joked to The Cape Cod Times in 2007.

In fact, McClanahan was married six times — a deliciously juicy tale that she details in her 2008 memoir, My First Five Husbands... And the Ones Who Got Away.

"This book is about men I have known in both the platonic and biblical senses," she wrote in the book. "Some I knew only slightly, some I knew quite well. Some I'll love always, some I no longer like very much, and there are a few I'd like to strip naked, tie to a maypole, smear with sweet syrup near a beehive, then stand back and watch."

McClanahan's sixth husband, Morrow Wilson, was a keeper, as she revealed at the time. The pair tied the knot in 1997 and separated in 2009, just one year before her death in 2010 (via Los Angeles Times).

Estelle Getty was much younger than Sophia

Fans of The Golden Girls know Sophia for her zingers and sarcastic nature, all in the body of a little old lady. What you may not know, however, is that Estelle Getty failed her first two auditions for the show because she didn't look old enough to portray a mother in her 80s (via The New York Times).

Getty was in her 60s at the time, a year younger than onscreen daughter Bea Arthur. At her third audition, she was so determined to get the part that she didn't mince words with the makeup artist. "To you this is just a job," she said, per the Times. "To me it's my entire career down the toilet unless you make me look 80."

Good Morning America reported that "it took the hair and makeup staff almost an hour" to transform Getty into Sophia, white wig, wrinkles, and all. The look helped the actor get into character while in the makeup chair, according to makeup artist Maurice Stein.

"When she first sits down in the chair, she's just Estelle, a nice, lovely lady. But as the makeup goes on, she becomes this snappy old lady, wise-cracking and crusty," he told Orange Coast Magazine. "By the time she gets up from her chair, I have Sophia on my hands."

Now that you've gotten to know each Golden Girl, your next binge-watching session will be even more special.