Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche Devereaux in the TV series Golden Girls, has died at the age of 76, as reported at Los Angeles Times. McClanahan left her mark in the series as a sex-positive older woman.
Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux proved that sex for women doesn’t stop after menopause
In American society, an older woman is often seen as unattractive and sexually undesirable. However, there are numerous women who reject that notion. One group of women who would reject such a thought are called Cougars, a term that originally invoked a negative connotation across the board. But says Valerie Gibson, the author of Cougar, A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, “When it first appeared, ‘Cougar’ was a derogatory term aimed at an older woman who was in a bar, perhaps had had too much to drink and was approaching younger men. However, that is not the case anymore. She’s the new breed of single, older woman – independent, confident, sophisticated, desirable and sexy, she knows exactly what she wants.”
Although the Cougar term may be more popular now, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux asserted her sexuality when it wasn’t so chic. Her provocative lines produced hearty laughs from male and female fans, but many older female fans who recognized that sexuality was important for their lives felt vindicated by the character’s approaches. Blanche Devereaux walked around like she was just as attractive as a 22-year-old and gave older women the confidence that they needed. The character was vain, but a dose of vanity for the older female fan who has taken care of kids and a husband for 30 years, isn’t necessarily bad.
Rue McClanahan played the character Vivian on Maude, but it was as Blanche Devereaux that she is better remembered
Although Rue McClanahan starred with fellow Golden Girl Beatrice Arthur in the TV series Maude as a scatter brained Vivian, it wasn’t until she became the sex pot on Golden Girls that the public really started to take notice of her comedic abilities. The character Maude was liberal and free with sex, but she was never outspoken in the way the Southern Belle Blanche Devereaux was. If every actress wants a role that they will be best remembered for, Blanche Devereaux will do it for Rue McClanahan.
Tom O’Neil, ‘Golden Girls’ leading lady Rue McClanahan dies at 76, Los Angeles Times
Rue McClanahan: Blanche Devereaux’s best ‘Golden Girls’ lines, The Baltimore Sun
Countdown to The Cougar Book: Interview with Valerie Gibson – The Original Cougar, Logical-Lust Blog