I was shocked today when I logged on to Facebook and saw that the Golden Girls are 30 years old. Only Betty White is still with us, now, which is unbelievably sad. I’m also a bit shocked that the series is 3 months older than me!
It was just the push I needed to compile a list of my favorite Life Lessons from Dorothy Zbornak.
Without a doubt, Dorothy is my favorite Golden Girl– I even dressed up as her for Halloween once. Proof is to the left, with my friend Dawn the make-up artist as Sophia and our friend Ryan in drag as Blanche. Our Rose was… not good, so she’s cropped out. Whoops-a-daisy.
As my blog name can attest, I’m attracted to female characters who are straight-shooters and don’t hold back their tongues, which is an attribute that both Dorothy and Bea Arthur had in spades. Also, did you know that Bea Arthur was a truck driver in World War II, and her earlier TV character Maude had an abortion after a late-in-life pregnancy, while it was still illegal in most of the United States to have the procedure? That’s an actress who is afraid of nothing!
Dorothy basically had a line for anything, with an attitude that I cop every single day. She was usually positive and was really, really accepting (she was the one who talked Blanche down from hysterics when her brother turned out to be gay, and also when Blanche’s daughter wanted to give birth in an unconventional birthing center, rather than a hospital), but when she was miffed– beware of that tongue.
Even though her sense of humor was cruel, the writers were pretty good at showing that the other Girls understood that the jabs were either in good fun or dishing the wit right back at Dorothy. Dorothy was the lynchpin of the group– though Sophia always had some good quips, Blanche and Rose didn’t have scenes together, usually, without either Sophia or Dorothy to provide the zingy backbone.
When trying to find images for this, I was absolutely surprised with how frequently I saw the word “slut” thrown at Blanche, and the image to the left being one of the most memorable. But I never got the impression that any of the women besmirched Blanche or felt negatively toward her bedroom antics. I always got the impression that Dorothy was a little bit proud to be friends with the popular “slut” for once, especially after how many jabs are thrown at her for her physicality.
I have to say, when I was first approached to be part of the Golden Girls Halloween costume group, I was a bit bummed that I was going to have to be Dorothy. I was 23 at the time, and single, and I wanted to have a “sexy” Halloween costume– and here I was, getting approached to be the masculine old lady, at the butt of dozens and dozens of jokes. But after dressing up as her, I actually became a lot more comfortable in my own skin, as a tall, assertive, strong-willed and quick-tongued woman. Unless you are actually a supermodel, height is something that’s not generally appreciated in women. But the writers never made Dorothy a spinster, and while she sometimes felt like one, she was confident enough to know that it was going to pass. One of my favorite life lessons from Dorothy Zbornak.But truly, I think my favorite thing about Dorothy is that she can make a joke out of almost nothing, and how much the writers loved giving her funny lines for the sake of letting Bea Arthur just be funny.