Most of us remember Rue McLanahan as the woman who always found comfort in the company of men on the TV show the Golden Girls. Her character Blanche Devereaux not only inspired many women to speak up and become more powerful, but also to have fun and enjoy life because you never know when it may end. Rue had a very long and very amazing career which not only stemmed from her pure talent, but this Oklahoma native also graced us on the stage and in movies.
Although Rue is most commonly known for her role as Blanche, did you know she also played a role across from Bea Arthur in Maude? They had already worked together for years on that hit show before they were reunited on the hit series the Golden Girls. Rue had a “talent that could” (line stolen from a song from the show Wicked which she starred in) turn a regular character or even a somewhat dull character into a full of life, high energy and memorable best friend. This was what separated her from other Actors. She not only had a presence that you could feel and see in person but it radiated off of her through the TV screen and it remains with every character she ever played or created. Rue had a talent that would leave her firmly in your mind and would make you want her role, even if it wasn’t a lead just because she could play any part better than anyone else. Rue’s Broadway career was just as fruitful and successful as her TV career.
Rue Mclanahan’s broadway career took off in 1969 acting across from the leading male Actor Dustin Hoffman in the show Jimmy Shines. From there her career went uphill and never really seemed to have a decline. She toured in numerous broadway touring companies and movies and TV series and eventually landed the spot in the original cast of Wicked playing Madame Morrible (She was the second Madame Morrible but was in the first season when she replaced the first Actress who created the character). Rue not only took on this role but she left it as her own after reinventing it and proving that there is and never will be another talent like hers. She had a way of redefining roles and characters and making them her own.
Many people can play a role just as well if not better than Rue Mclanahan can but no one can make a role or character as memorable as Rue could. Thank you for all of your dedication to the arts and all of your amazing performances. The world owes you a huge thank you on your final bow.