Rue McClanahan, ‘Golden Girls’ Star, Dead At 76

Actress, who portrayed Blanche Devereaux on show, suffered a massive stroke.

[movieperson id="41481"]Rue McClanahan[/movieperson], the Emmy-winning actress who starred as the saucy Blanche Devereaux in the hit TV series “The Golden Girls,” died early Thursday morning of a massive stroke, according to multiple reports. She was 76.

“She passed away at 1 a.m.,” her manager, Barbara Lawrence, told People.com. “She had a massive stroke.”

McClanahan had suffered a minor stroke earlier this year while recovering from triple bypass surgery. McClanahan’s rep told the magazine that at the time of her death Thursday, McClanahan “had her family with her. She went in peace.”

McClanahan was born on February 21, 1934, in Healdton, Oklahoma. After majoring in theater at the University of Tulsa, began her career as an actress in the mid-1950s, appearing in off-Broadway productions in New York. She made her Broadway debut in 1969, in the role of Sally Weber in the musical “Jimmy Shine,” and soon moved from the stage to daytime with a role on the soap opera “Another World” in 1970. It wasn’t until landing the part of Vivian Harmon in TV’s “Maude” (which starred a pre-”Golden Girls” Bea Arthur), however, that she would achieve the notoriety that led to landing her famous role on “Golden Girls.” In recent years, McClanahan had appeared on TV shows “Meet the Browns,” “Law & Order” and “Sordid Lives: The Series.”

Arthur died of cancer last year; co-star Estelle Getty passed away in 2008.

Betty White, the sole surviving “Girl,” has been enjoying a wave of success and attention of late. At 88, she hosted “Saturday Night Live”
last month, co-starred in the box office hit, “The Proposal,” and received a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild last year.