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Search your closets for a boxy jacket and bring some cheesecake. “The Golden Girls” are making their big-screen debut in South Florida theaters on Sept. 14, the 36th anniversary of the classic TV show’s first episode.
The series, which ran from 1985 to 1992, depicted four Miami roommates, senior citizens who were quick with the repartee and loved big padded shoulders and cheesecake slices at the kitchen table.
The women, played by Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty, tackled issues that were often taboo at the time: same-sex marriage, menopause, assisted suicide, senior sexuality and AIDS. Alone until they found each other, they showed the power of female friendship and the possibilities of an untraditional but still happy life in retirement.
The series has found amazing longevity in pop culture, spawning Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, college courses, drag musicals, a limited edition cereal, Pez dispensers and Lego sets. There’s even a stage production of “That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody” coming to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in December.
John Gillen, 42, of Fort Lauderdale, said he is a member of several Facebook fan groups and even went on a “Golden Girls”-themed cruise in 2020. He carries his “Sophia purse” each day, a beaded wicker tote made famous by the character Sophia Petrillo, the aged Sicilian firebrand played by the late Estelle Getty.
Gillen, who plans to attend one of the screenings, remembers not being allowed to watch the show as a child because it was considered too risque. He would sneak up to his parents’ bedroom door to peer through a crack.
He has moved several times in the past few years and always keeps his precious “Golden Girls” DVD collection in the front seat with him.
“They are the only girls allowed in my bedroom,” said Gillen, who said the women’s progressive views on homosexuality helped him come out in 1997.
The witty women offer a reassuring perspective during this era of COVID-19: We may be in a dark time, but can still be lively, loving and quick with the one-liners.
“It’s so hard to nail down which was the best, but they chose fantastic episodes,” said Edward Otto Zielke, 51, of Oakland Park, a longtime fan.
Fathom Events’ “Forever Golden: A Celebration of the Golden Girls” will be screened nationwide and at several South Florida theaters on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. Tickets are $12.50. Go to fathomevents.com for details.
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Here are the episodes you can see on the big screen.
“The Engagement” (Pilot,1985): Blanche (Rue McClanahan) has fallen in love and tells her boarders they will have to move out if she gets married. The wedding is called off when Blanche discovers that she has become entangled with a bigamist, but she finds comfort and love from her roommates.
“The Flu” (1986): A week before an awards ceremony, Blanche, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) and Rose (Betty White) come down with the flu, and they bicker over who will win the prestigious award.
“The Way We Met” (1986): After watching the movie “Psycho,” the women can’t sleep and start reminiscing about how they all came to live together.
“Ladies of the Evening” (1986): The women move into a Miami Beach hotel because the house is being fumigated. Previously, Blanche had won three tickets to see the opening of a Burt Reynolds movie and passes to the party held afterwards where they could meet him. However, on the evening of the opening, the hotel is raided and they are mistaken as prostitutes. Dorothy, Blanche and Rose are dragged off to jail.
“Grab That Dough” (1988): Sophia (Estelle Getty) gets tickets for the women to be contestants on their favorite game show, “Grab That Dough.” En route, the airline loses their luggage and they are forced to sleep in the lobby of their hotel. Arriving on set, Blanche and Dorothy team up with the Kaplan Brothers, returning champions, because Rose and Sophia are “dead weight.” To their surprise, Rose and Sophia answer all the questions correctly.