- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 1
American actress of stage, film and TV who is most famous for playing Blanche Devereaux in the TV hit show "The Golden Girls." She won an Emmy in 1987 for her portrayal of that bawdy southern belle.
McClanahan's mom, Dreda Rheua-Nell and her aunt agreed they would name each other's firstborn child. When McClanahan was born the aunt badgered her mom into naming her Eddi-Rue, but when she was 21 her boyfriend convinced her that it was not the name for an actress so she dropped the Eddi. She lived in six towns by the time she was eight; her dad, Edwin, was a road builder who moved from one project to another. Acting was the only thing she ever wanted to do and after four years at the University of Tulsa, she moved to New York where she worked part-time as a file clerk.
Her first professional acting job was onstage in Erie, PA., where she met her first husband. Later she went to Los Angeles to "be discovered." Instead, she worked four years as a waitress, a secretary, and a delivery girl while trying to break into show biz.
In 1964 she went to New York where she got an off-Broadway role in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," the start of a long and popular career. In 1970 she appeared in "Who's Happy Now?" Three years after Norman Lear saw her in 1969 in an off-Broadway production of "Tonight in Living Color," he called her to do a supporting role on "All in the Family." Later in the same week, he cast her in the role of Vivian on the series "Maude." Five years later, Lear starred McClanahan in her own short-lived series, "Apple Pie." In 1985 she got the role of Blanche Devereaux in "The Golden Girls" where she's enjoyed her biggest career success, winning another Emmy in 1987.
The stage still has such a strong pull for McClanahan that she has used vacation time from "The Golden Girls" to perform on stage in "Picnic" and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." Actress and friend Betty White says she's "one of a kind, an eccentric. Rue is not a carbon copy of anyone."
Married six times, her first two were both to struggling actors. They lasted a total of four years. Her third marriage to "Walter Mitty" co-star, Peter DeMaio, was more of a battle than a union. In 1976 she married her fourth husband, a Greek-American Realtor, Gus Fisher. He left after two years and then sued her for half of what she earned during their time together. Her fifth marriage to a high school boyfriend, Tom Keel, ended in 1985 after just one year. In 1986 she dated a music agent, Tom Bish, who had also been her first husband (in a marriage ended after 17 months) and the father of her only child, son Mark Bish, who was born in 1958.
Her sixth marriage was to Morrow Wilson, 25 December 1997, during the midst of her chemotherapy treatments for her breast cancer. Even though extremely weak, she didn't want to postpone her wedding for the treatments.
When her closest friend died in 1988, McClanahan went into therapy where she discovered she had a dependency on men and had to learn to have more confidence in herself. With four dogs and two cats herself, McClanahan is involved with pet-care charities. She doesn't watch TV or go to very many films but loves theater.
In 2009 she underwent heart bypass surgery. She suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage and died at 1 a.m. on 3 June 2010 at New York Presbyterian Hospital.