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Blanche Marie Elizabeth Hollingsworth Devereaux was one of the four main characters on the 1985-1992 NBC sitcom The Golden Girls, and its CBS spin-off The Golden Palace. In the pilot episode her last name was given as Hollingsworth, but this was somewhat "corrected" in later episodes by making this her maiden name. Blanche was portrayed by Rue McClanahan.


Blanche Hollinsworth was born in 1932, grew up in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, at her family's mansion, Twin Oaks. Her parents were the late Elizabeth Ann Bennett (Helen Kleeb) (later seasons named her mother as "Samantha Roquet") and Curtis "Big Daddy" Hollingsworth (first Murray Hamilton, and after Hamilton died, David Wayne), the latter a revered man in his neck of the woods. Much to Blanche's dismay, he married a young widow named Margaret Spencer (Sondra Currie) years after Blanche's mother, Elizabeth, died, but she grudgingly accepted the marriage. Blanche was not at Big Daddy's side when he died because she was supposed to attend a ball in Miami, in which she was the host (she admitted that in order to get the part she had to sleep with a committee member twice) but refused to go to his funeral because of an argument with her sister Virginia; Blanche regretted this afterward and resolved to try to rethink her priorities in life. After Big Daddy died, it was revealed that he and Blanche's long-lost African-American nanny Viola Watkins (Ruby Dee) had an affair that lasted for fifty years. She attended the fictional Miss McIver's Finishing School. On occasions, Blanche states that she is Baptist.

Blanche has four siblings: Charmaine (Barbara Babcock), the eldest sister, who infuriates Blanche when she writes a sordid novel that Blanche thinks is about her. Virginia (Sheree North) is the spoiled youngest sister, with whom Blanche shared a mutual loathing. They buried the hatchet when Virginia went into renal failure and Blanche offered her kidney to her sister, but their relationship became strained once more after their argument after Big Daddy's death in which Virginia accused Blanche of being too selfish and self-centered to say goodbye to her own father. There was also Clayton (Monte Markham), a younger brother whose subsequent revelation as being gay troubled Blanche to some extent; Blanche's reluctance to accept Clayton's sexual orientation nearly cost her relationship with him. During The Golden Palace, it is revealed that Blanche has a mentally challenged brother, Tad (Ned Beatty), who has spent most of his life in a Chattanooga institution. It was once revealed, when she was attempting to gain entry to the Daughters of the South, that she is 1/8 Jewish, her great-grandmother having been a Jewish woman named Feldman from Buffalo, New York. Blanche also had a visit from her promiscuous niece, Lucy (played by Hallie Todd, later of Lizzie McGuire fame).

Love life

For most of her life, she was married to high school sweetheart George Devereaux (George Grizzard). From the back-story, he died a few years before the start of the series in 1985. In a 1990 episode, Blanche had a dream that George came back from the dead nine years later (he said that he faked his death to escape criminal prosecution for fraud). Rue McClanahan has said that George was the love of Blanche's life, and that her promiscuity was in fact a desperate search for the next love of her life. The cause of George's death is never definitively established in the series: he either died immediately during a car accident when Blanche was at home, or after being in a coma when Blanche was getting a pedicure.

During her senior year in high school, in 1949, when she was 17, she almost eloped with the father of her rival at cheerleading with the sole purpose of having her taken off the squad. From this story, we learn that Blanche was born in 1932. This makes her 53 when the first season begins and 61 when The Golden Palace goes off the air in 1993.

On the show, Blanche has been shown to have dated various men, some of them unsavory. She almost married a bigamist in the pilot episode before he got caught by the police. Another man stole her necklace at her full moon-leap year's party, and he too was caught by the police. One boyfriend named Rex was emotionally and verbally abusive, until her roommate Dorothy helped her see his true colors. Another boyfriend Gary (Jerry Hardin) cheated on her under her very roof by sleeping with Rose's sister Holly (Inga Swenson) who was visiting. Blanche overcame her apprehension of dating Ted, who is in a wheelchair, only to find out he is married, so she terminated the relationship based on the fact that she has never been the "other woman" in extramarital affairs. The only other time that occurred was when, through a bizarre turn-of-events, her beau's wife was revived by paramedics after she was declared dead. But Blanche has also ruined good relationships with worthy men: Jake (Donnelly Rhodes)was perfect and wanted to marry her, he was charming, romantic, but not good enough for Blanche and she turned him down and regretted it later, and when Steven (Robert Mandan) was hospitalized, she refused to visit him until much later, by which time he reconciled with his ex-girlfriend.

On the show, Blanche is portrayed as a promiscuous woman, with her initials spelling out the word "BED." She spends a great deal of her time with members of the opposite sex, and this is a source of both condemnation from and amusement to her roommates. Blanche's seemingly liberated human sexual behavior was a contrast to the sexual climate of the 1980s, when AIDS was beginning to seep into a nation's consciousness. However, in the episode "72 Hours," it is mentioned that Blanche is cognizant of the dangers of HIV; she always uses protection and knows every lover's full sexual history. It was also inferred in one episode that she has had numerous interracial sexual liaisons with African-American men, though no such relations were ever depicted on camera.


There are a total of six children mentioned between Blanche and her late husband George: two daughters (Janet and Rebecca, both of whom appeared in the series) and four sons (three of them—Biff, Doug, and Skippy—are mentioned in the episode "Bringing Up Baby," while the fourth, Matthew, is mentioned in the episode "To Catch a Neighbor" and makes an onscreen appearance on an episode of The Golden Palace, played by southern comic Bill Engvall). During the series, Blanche learns that George had a seventh child, a son named David (Mark Moses), as the result of an affair.

During the course of the show, Blanche is revealed not to have been very 'hands-on' as a mother. She has a strained relationship with most of her children, especially daughter Janet, something that led to some of the most dramatic storylines as she expressed regrets that she wasn't there for her children more.

Prior to the series' beginning, Blanche had a falling out with her daughter Rebecca over Rebecca's decision to drop out of school to pursue a modeling career in Paris. When Rebecca returns, she is significantly overweight and engaged to an emotionally abusive man named Jeremy (Joe Regalbuto). Blanche tried to convince Rebecca that Jeremy wasn't good enough for her, and Rebecca once again accused her mother of trying to control her life and stormed out, though she soon realized Blanche was right and again made peace with her.

Rebecca eventually lost the extra pounds and returned a few seasons later (played by a different actress, Debra Engle), deciding that she wanted to have a baby through artificial insemination. Blanche made no secret of the fact that Rebecca's decision embarrassed her, and mother and daughter once again stopped speaking, until Blanche realized that her pride wasn't worth losing a relationship with her daughter and the grandchild and decided to accept the decision.

Rebecca later gives birth to a daughter, Aurora (a name Blanche hates because it's not "musical" or "Southern" enough, in her estimation). Aurora is the catalyst of one more major conflict between Rebecca and Blanche, when Blanche meets a man named Jason (Alan Rachins) while baby-sitting Aurora. Jason assumes that Blanche is Aurora's mother rather than grandmother, and Blanche is so flattered that she fails to correct him. When Jason finds out the truth, he breaks up with Blanche for lying to him. Rebecca, believing that Blanche was just using Aurora, once again stops speaking to her mother until Sophia convinces her to reconcile and not let Aurora grow up without a grandmother.

Blanche also has at least four grandchildren, David, Melissa, and Sarah (all born to Janet, who married a "Yankee"), as well as Rebecca's child, Aurora.

Relationship with her roommates

Blanche acts as co-roommate and landlord to Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo. Throughout the series, she and Rose are often involved in the same activities, be it auditioning for a play or doing community service projects. Though she, like Dorothy, and Sophia, gets annoyed at times by Rose's constant storytelling, she sees her as both her best friend and a surrogate sister. To be sure, Blanche has her own collection of strange stories which she also shares from time to time, often tales of her rivalry with sisters Virginia and Charmaine or of the promiscuous stunts she pulled as a teenager.

Her relationship with Dorothy is mixed with envy and condemnation and sisterhood on both parts: Dorothy envies and condemns Blanche's sexual comfortability, while Blanche envies Dorothy's intelligence and condemns her fashion sense, among other things. And yet, both she and Dorothy at times isolate themselves from Rose, ganging up on her when the latter says anything particularly foolish, and taking turns hitting her on the head with a newspaper or magazine. Their relationship is also symbiotic: in one of the last episodes in the series, Dorothy admits that Blanche has helped her be comfortable with her own sexuality, while Dorothy herself has always served as Blanche's other voice of reason.

Blanche's relationship with Sophia is also interesting: Blanche sees her both as a mother figure and as a mean old lady, and Sophia sees her as one of her daughters and, very vocally, a streetwalker. (In the very first episode of the series, Sophia had bluntly told Blanche, "You look like a prostitute.")

In the Season Four episode Yes, We Have no Havanas, Sophia and Blanche became rivals for the affections of an elderly Cuban gentleman named Fidel Santiago (Henry Darrow), and the two women traded particularly nasty insults with each other: Sophia called Blanche a "50-year-old mattress," and Blanche referred to Sophia as a "raisin in sneakers" and a "wrinkled old crow". The rivalry came to an abrupt end when Fidel died suddenly. As it turned out, Fidel was even more promiscuous than Blanche - the congregation at his funeral consisted entirely of women he had been romancing (except for Dorothy and Rose), causing Blanche to say "He had his burro hitched to every bed post in town!"

  • It was revealed in the episode Love Under the Big Top that Blanche doesn't like tuna fish which is inconsistent because when Rose became her "wiedenfrugen", Scandinavian for personal assistant, (to make up for losing Blanche's earrings, which Blanche actually lost herself while on a romantic date), she stated that she hated making her "stinking tuna fish sandwiches" as a part of her daily task.


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