It Was 30 Years Ago Today

Picture it:  NBC, 8pm, 30 years ago.  We heard that now famous theme song, “Thank You For Being A Friend” for the first time when the pilot episode of “The Golden Girls” premiered on September 14, 1985.  History and legends-not to mention a strong craving for cheesecake-was born.

How do I love these women?  I cannot even count the ways.  Three decades later, they remain my surrogate mothers/grandmothers.  As the saying goes, nearly everything I needed to know about life I learned from the Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls                                                                                          Photo courtesy of NBC.

They taught us all that life didn’t end at age 50 or older, or when your husband died and your kids left home.  That you stayed active, tried new things (remember Rose’s self-esteem class “You’re Special”, or performing in community theater, or when she took classes to learn Spanish, or when she finished high school in night class with Dorothy as the teacher), you always volunteered, you embraced gay rights (true, Blanche had a hard time when her brother came out, but it was when he was 45 years old & divorced, so it was understandable that she was a little thrown.  But she eventually accepted it) and you always practiced safe sex.

A few years ago, the Jelly Belly Candy Company launched a contest to the public to pick a new jelly bean flavor.  My suggestion?  Golden Girls Cheesecake, of course.  It did not win.  😦

The kitchen table or the couch from the set should be in the Smithsonian.  It is as important to television history as Archie’s chair or Fonzie’s jacket.  If it wasn’t, would Lego be “toying” with the idea of a Golden Girls set?  (Sorry, I had to!!!)

We must give props to Susan Harris, the creator of this iconic show.  Not to mention all the producers, writers, directors, guest stars (hello, George Clooney!) and everyone else who had a hand in the magic.  And can you picture someone else in the role of Dorothy?  Well, Elaine Stich was contacted first to audition for that part.  Picture that.

Recently one of my cousins, who is as insane about the Golden Girls as I am, sent me the following picture of a bumper sticker she spotted on someone’s car:

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If that is not a solid way of life, I do not know what is!!!

Their friendship was phenomenal.  It turned them into family which led them to fight over men (Sophia & Blanche over Fidel), dresses (Dorothy & Blanche, then Blanche & Sophia) sisters (Dorothy & Blanche telling Rose her sister was nice when all the while she was backstabbing Rose), kids (Dorothy & Rose when their children slept together after Blanche sent them on a date) and food (Rose’s chipped beef vs. Sophia’s marinara sauce).

I also loved how they reeled each other in when they each ran off the rails with comebacks delivered to perfection that have become classic comedy moments.

Dorothy to Blanche:  “Pull yourself together.  You’re in a psychiatrist’s office!”

Sophia:  “My heiny’s asleep.”  Dorothy:  “Fine.  We’ll keep our voices down.”

Sophia, in response to Dorothy’s threat to beat her mother at cards:  “Ooooh,  I’m so scared my dentures are chattering!”

Blanche’s date:  “Can you believe they gave us the same table?”  Blanche:  “Well why would they seat us separately?”

Rose via Dorothy to Blanche:  “You’ve been under more drunken sailors than a nautical toilet.”

Dorothy:  “I never heard of anyone named Mammy before.”  Rose:  “What about Mrs. Eisenhower?”  Dorothy:  “Mammy Eisenhower?  I think only the Nixon kids got to call her that.”

Blanche to her daughter Becky, who was in labor & wanted to stop pushing and hold the baby in:  “No, it’s a bad look.  Now you know I’ve never been real strict with you, Becky, but you have to.”

Blanche to her gentlemen caller in the wheelchair, who turned out to be married:  “I thought you were noble.  It never occurred to me you could be a jerk in a wheelchair!”

It was fitting Dorothy was a teacher because she mastered the art of tough love.

To Rose, who was scared to be intimate with her new boyfriend:  “If you take a chance in life sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen.  But if you don’t take a chance nothing happens.”

Her advice to Blanche about giving her grandson chores:  “You do what is best for David, not what is easiest for you.”

Dorothy to Blanche’s grandson who wants to leave because he has “all this crappy stuff to do,”

“Life is full of crappy stuff to do.  It’s everywhere so you better get used to it.  The President has crappy stuff to do.”   I learned a lot about life from my grandmother, but Dorothy’s words in this scene are probably the greatest definition of what life is all about in the history of ever, in my very humble opinion.

And when things get really bad for me, I take solace in the fact that I am not in Blanche’s shoes (“I lost Anderbo and her beau!”)  🙂

This was excruciatingly hard, but I narrowed down my top 10 shows from seven seasons and 180 episodes.

  1.  Room 7 (Season 7).  Why?  “I see London, I see France, I see Blanche’s underpants.”  And Sophia jumping off the roof.
  2. Mary Had A Little Lamb (Season 5).  Why?  I desperately wanted to be Mary-not pregnant-but taken in by those wonderful women when my life was falling apart.  In the unedited version of the episode, we learn Mary spent the nights with the GG’s after visiting her dying mother in the hospital.  What a haven that girl found.
  3. Beauty & The Beast (Season 7).  Why?  One line:  “What the hell goes on at night in this house?”  Runner up:  “I remember spending that quality wharf time with my Grandma.”
  4. Isn’t It Romantic (Season 2).  Why?  Blanche’s irate reaction upon learning that Dorothy’s lesbian friend Jean prefers Rose over Blanche.  Simply priceless.
  5. Goodbye, Mr. Gordon (Season 7).  Why?  Rose tells her co-workers and all of Miami on her morning TV show that Dorothy & Blanche are lesbians.  And Sophia asking mean questions from the audience to rub salt in the wound.
  6. Dorothy’s New Friend (Season 3).  Why?  Blanche & Rose resorting to childhood antics like giving Dorothy the silent treatment when they are jealous of her relationship with a snooty author.
  7. To Catch A Neighbor (Season 2).  Why?  George Clooney.  And Rose upset that they would miss watching the movie “In Cold Blood”, inciting Dorothy to hit Rose over the head with a TV Guide.
  8. Old Boyfriends (Season 7).  Why?  One, when Sophia refers to Dorothy as her lesbian lover.  Two, when Sophia refers to herself as an unsuspecting cutie being lured into a web of sex games.  Fantastic!!!
  9. Grab That Dough (Season 3).  Why?  Blanche’s description of herself (“An artist with an incredible body, runs her own museum, speaks Chinese…”) and Sophia telling Dorothy she was the biggest disappointment since the AMC Pacer.
  10. End Of The Curse (Season 2).  Why?  Rose:  “We had a pig on the farm who got pregnant, and we never knew who the father was.”  Dorothy:  “Oh my God, Rose, what did you do on Father’s Day?”  Plus the visit to the psychiatrist’s office.

As a Springsteen fan, the references to him were an added bonus and showed just how cool and current these ladies really were.  In “The Truth Will Out” (Season 1), Rose’s granddaughter, Charlie, is telling her grandmother about her boyfriend, who reminds her of Rose’s late husband.

Rose:  “Does he look like Grandpa?”  Charlie:  “No, he looks like Bruce Springsteen!”

In The Competition episode (Season 1), Dorothy said no to Sophia’s request for money to buy airline tickets.

Sophia:  “I can’t believe you’re denying your own mother!”  Rose:  “Denying her what?”  Dorothy:  “Springsteen tickets.”

The only episode I cannot watch over and over again is the final one.  Despite the fact that these women live on in repeats several times a day (thank you Hallmark, Logo and TV Land), it is still too painful for me to accept the fact that their story ended, even if it was in a wonderful way like Dorothy finally finding happiness in love.  The end of the Golden Girls was like leaving the gang in Oz all over again.  Sigh 😦

Four years ago, I was lucky & blessed to see Betty White in person at a book signing.  I had the chance to tell her that being introduced to her was like meeting one of the Beatles, and that she and the three other Golden Girls were my surrogate mothers.  She patted my hand and gave it a squeeze.  Life does not get much better than that…..unless I am watching an episode of the Golden Girls.

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COPYRIGHT 2011 BY Michele Antonio

Thank you, Ladies, for being so much more than my friends all these years.  You are beloved!!!

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My Top 20 Christmas Songs

Music is such a special part of my life, and Christmas songs are no different.  There have been so many great versions of almost every song, it was hard to narrow it down to just 20.  But with 10 days to go before the big day, I thought I would share my list with all of you.

Each song includes a link to a YouTube video.  I do not own the rights to anything, nor am I associated with any of the channels/videos that I chose.  I just picked ones that showcased either the artists and/or the song enough to give you the best feel for the tune (in my humble opinion).

All opinions are my own.

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?  Tell me in the comments below.

Enjoy!!!

1)  Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen ( written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore).

It’s Bruce.  To say this is perfect would only be redundant.

2)  Christmas Time is Here by the Peanuts ( written by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi).

The Peanuts were my best friends when I was a kid, and today they are just as special to me.  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the main reason why.  If all I did for the holiday season was watch this special, my Christmas would still be perfect.

3)  White Christmas by Otis Redding (written by Irving Berlin).

Yes, I know all about the popularity of Bing Crosby’s version.  However, in my humble opinion, Redding brings such a stunning soulful element to his version of this song I really cannot listen to any other one. And if it was good enough for the “Love Actually” soundtrack, it is good enough for me.

4)  Winter Wonderland by Ray Charles (written by Felix Bernard).

Charles’ take on this is as unique and gorgeous as his version of “America The Beautiful”.  Truly a holiday gem.

5)  Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives (written by Johnny Marks).

Who does not want a singing snowman???  Burl Ives is one of the reasons why I still tune in to watch “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” even now.

6)  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love (written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich & Jeff Barry).

Love has performed this song on Letterman’s show since 1993.  You have to watch both the studio version and the live version to truly appreciate this song and Love’s voice.

http://youtu.be/4EvZOXEoJ84 (studio version)

http://youtu.be/m7M6wRPuD2w (2013 Letterman performance)

7)  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (written by Charles Wesley).

Between the Peanuts characters singing it at the end of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and it being the song that celebrated George Bailey’s worth in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, it is impossible for me to hear any version of this song and not get verklempt.  A multitude of singers have covered this song but Martina McBride, Neil Diamond & Frank Sinatra’s versions are among my favorites.

8)  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland (written by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane).

Tony Bennett called Garland the greatest singer he ever heard.  I am in no position to argue with a man of his talent and taste.

9)  Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley (written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson).

It’s ELVIS!!!

10)  O Come All Ye Faithful by Nat King Cole (written by John Francis Wade).

Most people associate him with the most famous version of “The Christmas Song”, but it is this Christmas classic that I love the most of Cole’s holiday recordings.

11)  The Christmas Song by Tony Bennett (written by Mel Torme & Robert Wells).

Tony Bennett is a legend.  If you do not have any of his music in your collection, you are doing yourself a disservice.

12)  It’s a Marshmallow World by Dean Martin (written in 1949 by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose).

I think Frank Sinatra would even agree that Martin was probably the coolest member of the Rat Pack.

13)  Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins (written by Bob James and Kenny Loggins).

Not a cover of a Christmas classic, but a song of Loggins’ very own is now a holiday staple.

14)  What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder (written by Anna Gordy Gaye (yes, Marvin Gaye’s first wife) & George Gordy).

Another original Christmas tune that has become a staple of the holiday.  And who can forget Will Ferrell’s “Elf” jumping on the mattresses with his little brother while this song was playing?

15)  Silver Bells by Rosemary Clooney & Bing Crosby (written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans).

Before her nephew George was probably even born, Rosemary Clooney was Hollywood’s “it” girl.  Anything she sang was perfection and pairing her voice with Bing Crosby’s turned a song into a spectacular event.

16)  Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon (written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono).

From the man who told us “love is the answer”, peace was the gift he wanted for the world, and not just at Christmas.

17)  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams (written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle).

I’ll admit this song now reminds me of back to school shopping thanks to a fabulous campaign several years ago by Staples, but it is a holiday classic nonetheless.

18)  The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth by Bing Crosby & David Bowie (Drummer Boy written by Harry Simeone, Henry Onorati & Katherine Kennicott Davis, and the Peace on Earth music & lyrics written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman and Alan Kohan expressly for the recording by Crosby and Bowie).

In theory this was an odd pairing, but in principle their voices worked so well together it is hard to imagine this season without this song.  But I still wonder what would have happened if Bowie had shown up at Crosby’s house dressed as Ziggy Stardust???  (LOL)

19) O Holy Night by Eric Cartman (written by Adolphe-Charles Adam).

South Park is one of my all time favorite shows, and this clip illustrates just one of the reasons why.  Any reverence I had for this song is gone thanks to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but I would not have it any other way!!!

20)  Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy (written by Randy Brooks).

This brings back memories of me and my cousins signing this song to my grandmother, who I miss everyday, not just at Christmas.  But this makes me feel a little closer to her.