In my last article we discussed some of the mega stars that had graced the set of The Golden Girls, some already known, and some getting their start. However, I knew it would take a whole other article to further discuss some of the magnitude of star quality that I was surprised by! If you never gave much thought to some of the guest stars and just thought they were “just” actors, you might be surprised too!
Aside from the awesome recurring actors such as Herb Edleman (Stan), Harold Gould (Miles), the cast of Empty Nest and a few others, there were scores of others that appeared only once or perhaps a few times. One of the most current famous guests was Quentin Tarantino. Before Quentin broke onto the Hollywood scene, he was on the set of The Golden Girls, but didn’t even have a speaking part! He was cast as an extra Elvis impersonator who showed up as a guest to the wedding of Sophia and Max! Now, Quentin is sitting back and enjoying his two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards, not to mention his many nominations for other esteemed awards!
The second Mr. Dorothy Zbornak, Leslie Nielson, was of course a well-known actor at the time of his appearance on the show. I knew he was accomplished and funny, but I had no idea he was such a highly decorated actor! Before his death in 2010 after battling pneumonia, he awarded the UCLA’s Jack and Benny award for his work in the comedic arena. In 1988 he received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. ”In 2001 he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. The following year he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.” Among a few others!
Nancy Walker or better known in our little Golden Girl world as Angela, Sophia’s sister had several nominations under her belt before she passed away in 1992 at the age of 69. Although she never received any of the awards she was nominated for, being acknowledged for her hard work and talent alone is amazing to me! Ms. Walker was nominated for 3 Golden Globe awards, 7 Primetime Emmy Awards, one of which was for her work on the Golden Girls in 1985. One Razzie for worst director, which I guess is a good thing she didn’t win that one and one TV Land Award.
But the two that took me by most surprise were Ruby Dee who portrayed Blanche’s Mammy Watkins in the episode “Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy” and Rita Moreno, a.k.a. Rene from the spin off episode “Empty Nest”.
After Mammy Watkins came waltzing back into Blanche’s life, Blanche learned of the real reason why Mammy had to leave year prior! Apparently, Mammy and Blanche’s beloved father, Big Daddy were having an affair. And like so many, many times, the wife found out and the mistress had to take off. Mammy, I mean, Ruby Dee was one amazing actress and her long list of nominations and wins proves it! From Oscars, to Emmy’s, Tony’s and Grammys and more, Ms. Dee was nominated for 33 awards. Winning a whopping 16 of them!! Where does she keep all of those trophies and what not’s?
In “Empty Nest” which was later spun off into another sitcom, Rene was friends with the girls next door and often confided in them about her loneliness as she battled her empty nest syndrome. She didn’t last as the girls’ neighbor, but she did make quite a name for herself during her career! From the time she started working in the entertainment industry, there was a huge “racism” against Hispanic actresses. But that did not stop Rita Moreno from following her dreams and going after what she wanted! One of the biggest she did early on in her career was “West Side Story”! Of Moreno’s 36 nominations, again from Grammy’s to Tony’s to Emmy’s and many, many more she was the winner of 16 of those!
WOW! Talk about a star studded cast!! Of course I didn’t even mention the tons of the others! Debbie Reynolds, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rooney and so many more! I’m almost blinded from the bright star light as it is!