‘Golden Girls’ Star McClanahan Has Bypass Surgery

by | November 5, 2009 at 10:04 PM | TV News

(Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images)

(Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images)

(AP) By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES – Rue McClanahan, who played sexy Southern belle Blanche Devereaux on “The Golden Girls,” was recovering Thursday from heart bypass surgery at a New York City hospital.

The surgery took place Wednesday and went “very, very well,” said friend and colleague Del Shores. “She’s going to be great and up and entertaining us all very shortly.”

McClanahan, 75, said in a statement that she regretted missing a tribute to her set for this month at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

“Unfortunately, my doctor has laid down the law, and I’m currently in the hospital having some maintenance on the old ticker,” she said. “Trust me, I’d much rather be in San Francisco having fun and being adored by all of you.”

McClanahan’s problem was discovered when she underwent tests before a knee operation, said Shores, who declined to identify the hospital where she was being treated.

In 2008, McClanahan appeared in the Logo comedy “Sordid Lives: The Series,” playing the slightly addled, elderly mother of an institutionalized drag queen. Shores wrote and directed the show, which was based on his play and movie.

He was to perform with McClanahan and “Sordid Lives” star Leslie Jordan at the New York club Comix at the end of the month. The trio will reschedule, Shores said, although he and Jordan still plan to perform at the club.

McClanahan had an active career in off-Broadway and regional stages in the 1960s before she was tapped for TV in the 1970s for the key best-friend character on the hit series “Maude.”

Her best-known role came in 1985 when she costarred with “Maude” colleague Beatrice Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty in “The Golden Girls.” The sitcom about four older women living together in Miami was a success that aired until 1992 on NBC.

McClanahan underwent treatment for breast cancer in 1997.

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