I said that we would go into the saga of Coco--the ill-fated gay houseboy character scrapped after (and technically during) the pilot episode, but I have been reading the excellent book Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai by Jim Colucci, and I think that story will have to wait for another day. Today I will bring you 3 other untold* stories.
(*"Untold" is a sketchy term considering I am telling you right now that they were told in this book, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)
1) His Burtness: Our episode discusses "Ladies of the Evening," a story built around the gals obtaining tickets to a Burt Reynolds movie premiere. One of the series' writers, Kathy Speer, says the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre kept coming up in the writers' room and that she thinks he only did the show to thwart the speculation that he had AIDS at the time.
Barry Fanaro, credited co-writer on "Ladies," says Betty White told them Burt Reynolds loved the show, so they asked her if he'd do a guest shot. Fanaro says Burt was a little nervous about botching his big appearance at the end of the episode but that "it worked perfectly."
One of the "ladies of the night" the Girls share a holding cell with is played by Rue McClanahan's niece Amelia. According to an associate director of the episode, she opted not to wear a bra during dress rehearsal and experienced a "wardrobe malfunction." It caused chaos in the booth, and then everyone settled down and figured, "OK, she's just being a little ambitious." They fixed the situation before the version that aired.
2) Thank you for being an earworm: The book details the origin of the famous theme song, Cindy Fee's cover version of Andrew Gold's AM Gold hit (and not a huge hit at that) "Thank You for Being a Friend." The original concept was a series of stock shots of Miami on screen to the sounds of Bette Midler's "(You Got to Have) Friends," but the original choice of that tune was too expensive to license.
The producers went with a female rendition of Gold's old hit, and the then-23-year-old Fee showed up, said she was gonna nail it in one take (she had a lot of other gigs lined up that day) and did so. She had no idea what the series was even about, but she declared today that the song put her kids through college.
3) Coming up after The Smurfs: Perhaps the most amazing untold story of all is the fact that the series producers actually considered a Saturday morning animated spinoff of The Golden Girls. Production associate Robert Spina dreamed up The Animated Everyday Adventures of Sophia Petrillo and the Golden Gang, with the lead to be voiced by Estelle Getty. Disney actually considered this, but alas, it was never to be.
The concept included Sofia teaming up with the kids from the neighborhood, plus the dog from Empty Nest, while her roommates were away during the day. There would be stories of Sicily and cameos by the other Girls.