The Truth Behind Betty White and Bea Arthur's Explosive Feud

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The Truth Behind Betty White and Bea Arthur's Explosive Feud

The legendary Betty White and Bea Arthur had impeccable on-screen chemistry as part of the foursome that won our hearts on The Golden Girls. The actresses were so good at their jobs that we never picked up on the the fact that in real life they were far from best friends.  

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In the years after the end of the series, both White and Arthur, as well as people close to them, have spilled the beans about their mutual hostility towards each other.

"She was not that fond of me," White said back in 2011. "She found me a pain in the neck sometimes."

The actress, who played Rose Nylun on the show, chalked up their rocky relationship to Arthur not being able to tolerate her "positive attitude." "Sometimes if I was happy, she'd be furious!" White added.

But, it turns out White's optimism was far from the real reason why Arthur didn't get along with her and some of her other co-stars.

Both White and Arthur carry part of the blame, but it seems like the latter's lack of diplomacy and introvertedness has played a bigger role in their tumultuous relationship.

The pair started out as friends who would head into work together and wouldn't even eat lunch without each other. However, over time they grew apart. Although Arthur, who died a few years ago, never gave an explanation as to why there was a rift between her and White, her adopted son Matthew Saks may know a thing or two about it.


"My mom wasn't really close to anybody," Arthur's eldest son, Matthew Saks told Closer in 2015. "I'm not saying she was a loner, but she just liked to go home and read the paper."

Saks's description of his mom backs up White's claim that her outgoing and positive personality often did not gel with Arthur's. She probably enjoyed saying "Oh, shut up Rose! to White's character every chance she got.

"My mom unknowingly carried the attitude that it was fun to have somebody to be angry at," Saks continued. "

Saks also theorized that his mom and White's acting styles may have played a role in their real life drama.

"Sometimes Betty would go out and smile and chat with the audience and literally go and make friends with the audience. Which is a nice thing "” a lot of them have come from all over the country and are fans," Saks explained to the Hollywood Reporter. "I think my mom didn't dig that...It's just not the right time to talk to fans between takes. Betty was able to do it and it didn't seem to affect her. But it rubbed my mom the wrong way."

But Saks is convinced that the biggest reason why Arthur saw White as her "nemesis" was that she was jealous of White being the first to win an Emmy.

As soon as White took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1986, the show's staff began preparing for the rift that was about to take place between White and Arthur.

According to Golden Girls Forever author Jim Colucci, the show's writers and stars joked that, "it's going to be rough around here!"'

My mom was the real deal," Saks said. "I think she felt she was more of an actress than Betty. Mom came from Broadway. Betty starred on a game show at one point."

Despite it all, Arthur, White and the rest of the cast continued working on the show until 1992. Upon reaching the final season, the show was starting to lose its appeal and Arthur "made it very clear that she was done," claimed Colucci.

Sadly, whatever feud the ladies had between them no longer means anything because 95-year-old White is only one alive. Arthur died at the age of 86 from cancer, and a year later, McClanahan died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Getty had already passed away two years earlier from complications related to Lewy body dementia.

One of their last appearances together was at the TV Land Awards in 2008.  

Do you think Saks is right about the reason why Arthur and White didn't get along?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.