best known for playing Blanche Devereaux on TV's
The Golden Girls from 1985 until 1992, is on her
sixth husband and about to shoot a comedy for Here TV, in
which she'll play a free-spirited grandmother.
She looks back on her love life and acting career in
theater, film, and TV in My First Five
Husbands...and the Ones Who Got Away (Broadway
Books, 352 pages, $24.95).
How much do you have in common with Blanche Devereaux?
I always say she was a glamorous, oversexed,
self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern belle from
Atlanta--and I'm not from Atlanta!
Why do you think gay men love Blanche Devereaux so
much--aside from the glamour and her way
She always bounced back from disappointment very
quickly. I think that's why a lot of people
loved her. Underneath she was insecure, or she
wouldn't have been so man-crazy. It wasn't a
driving physical need for her, but she sure did love
sex. She might take sex as meaning love; it's
not the best way to find love.
In your personal life what role has been the biggest
stretch for you?
It was revealing myself. In my 40s, I remember
thinking, what I really want is a relationship with
someone I could show my ugly parts to, someone I
didn't have to be on best behavior with. I found that
in my 60s with my current husband. Two weeks after we
met, I found out I had cancer, and he said he wanted
to be with me throughout the experience. By then, I
wasn't afraid to reveal myself. But it takes
You had your big TV breaks at ages 38 and 39 with All
in the Family and Maude and your
biggest role in your 50s with The Golden
Girls. How did you buck the ageism that plagues so
If you don't base your self-confidence on
looks or another quality that gets weaker with age,
but you base it on a really strong belief in your
ability to portray characters--your talent, in other
words--then you just get better and better.
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