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She was born February 21, 1934 as Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, to
building contractor William Edwin "Bill" McClanahan and his wife, Dreda
Rheua-Nell (née Medaris), a beautician . She died Thursday, June 3, 2010
at New York Presbyterian Hospital of a brain hemorrhage. She was of
Irish and Choctaw descent. Her Choctaw great-grandfather was named
Running Hawk according to her autobiography
My First Five Husbands... and
the Ones Who Got Away (2007). She grew up in Ardmore Oklahoma and
graduated from Ardmore High School.
Feb 21,1934 - Jun 3,2010
Posted by Jo Aguirre
She earned a Bachelor of arts degree at the University of Tulsa
majoring in German and Theater. She joined Kappa Alpha
Theta sorority and was a National Honor Society Member. She had
undergone treatment for breast cancer in 1997 and later lectured to
cancer support groups on "aging gracefully." She had heart bypass
surgery in 2009.
A childhood friend remembered McClanahan excelled in the classroom and
as a dancer. Her humourous side was evident even then. She told people
she lived 13 telephone poles north of the stand pipe".
She began acting on off-Broadway in New York City in 1957 and made her
Broadway début in 1969. Her role as Caroline Johnson on Another World
(from July 1970 to September 1971) brought her notice. On the show,
while taking care of twins Michael and Marianne Randolph, Caroline fell
in love with their father, John, and began poisoning their mother, Pat.
The short-term role was extended to more than a year before Caroline was
finally brought to justice after kidnapping the twins. Once her role on
Another World ended,
McClanahan joined the cast of the CBS soap Where the Heart Is , in which
she played Margaret Jardin. She
was tapped for television in the 1970s for the key best-friend character
on the hit series Maude," starring Beatrice Arthur. After that series
ended in 1978, McClanahan landed the role as Aunt Fran on "Mama's
Family" in 1983. Her best-known role came in 1985 when she costarred
with Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty in "The Golden Girls," a
runaway hit that broke the sitcom mold by focusing on the foibles of
four aging - and frequently eccentric - women living together in Miami.
McClanahan won an Emmy for her work on the show in 1987. After "The
Golden Girls" was canceled in 1992, McClanahan, White and Getty reprised
their roles in a short-lived spinoff, "Golden Palace." Afterwards, she
continued working in television, on stage and in film. She called her
2007 memoir "My First Five Husbands And the Ones Who Got Away."
In 2003, she appeared in the musical romantic comedy film as Nancy
Stringer on The Fighting Temptations. On May 31, 2005 she was in the
musical Wicked as Madame Horrible on Broadway. She played the role for
eight months and departed the cast January 8, 2006.
Her autobiography, My First
Five Husbands ... and the Ones Who Got Away, was released in 2007.
The Golden Girls was awarded the 'Pop Culture' award at the Sixth Annual
TV Land Awards in June 2008. McClanahan accepted the award with costars
Bea Arthur and Betty White. Her final acting role was in the cable
series Sordid Lives on the Logo network, which premiered July 23, 2008,
playing Peggy Ingram, the older sister of Sissy Hickey and mother of
Latrelle, LaVonda and Earl "Brother Boy".
McClanahan was one of the first celebrity supporters of PETA (People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
McClanahan was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son,
Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D'Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel.
She married husband Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.
McClanahan is survived by her sixth husband, Morrow Wilson (from whom
she separated in 2009); her son from her first marriage, Mark Bish of
Austin, Texas; her sister, Melinda L. McClanahan, of Silver City, New
Mexico; and a nephew, Brendan Kinkade.
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