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The Greatest Golden Girls Guest Stars, Ranked 

Lisa Waugh
Updated May 18, 2020 3.8k votes 568 voters 18.4k views 23 items

The Golden Girls ran for seven seasons, earned 68 Emmy nominations, tackled social issues, and created a diehard following that is still hard to beat. Besides the masterful performances of the show's stars Rue McClanahan (Blanche Devereaux), Bea Arther (Dorothy Zbornak), Betty White (Rose Nylund), and Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo), the show featured some of the best actors of the '70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s in awesome guest roles. The Golden Girls required stage and screen actors who knew how to handle the wonderfully written material as well as hold their own against four strong, extremely deadpan, and intelligent series regulars.  

The Golden Girls cameos included the likes of Civil Rights activist and stage legend Ruby Dee, the hilarious and charming Leslie Nielsen, and a Sun Studios-version of Elvis played by then unknown actor Quentin Tarantino. George Clooney can also count himself among The Golden Girls guest actors along with America's favorite TV Joker Cesar Romero. The show spanned a vast demographic, grabbing viewer’s loyalty and keeping it, all without the Internet or social media. Thirty years later, The Golden Girls is still quoted in daily life, memes abound, and Betty White reigns supreme.  

The Golden Girls cameos required more of the actor than just showing up and saying one-liners. The guest actors had to be on top of their game as the show took on sex, homelessness, immigration, gay rights, race, and even a trans plot line.  

You’ll easily recognize many of these Golden Girls guest stars but many are now lost to the deep folds of time and the merciless churn of the internet cycle. Still, Golden Girls devotees know who they are. And now, with this Golden Girls guest actors list, you’ll know them too.  

Vote up your favorite Golden Girls cameos and try to guess how many of them Blanche slept with. And- if you ever finish that mental tally (good luck), make sure to check out these other funny shows like The Golden Girls.

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Nancy Walker is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Golden Girls Guest Stars, Ranked
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Played: Angela  
Episodes: “The Sisters” “Long Day’s Journey into Marinara”  

Walker was a comedian’s comedian and gave Estelle Getty a run for her money as her sister Angela; they looked nearly identical on the show. Walker was a go to on many a hit show in the ’70s and ’80s. Her stint on Golden Girls proved she still had it.  

Source: BoyCulture
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Leslie Nielsen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Golden Girls Guest Stars, Ranked
Photo: flickr/CC0

Played: Lucas Hollingsworth 
Episode: “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest”  

Blanche’s uncle would win the grand prize by landing the hardest to get Golden Girl of the bunch: Dorothy. Nielsen and Arthur not only had chemistry, they knew how to lay out some golden comedy. Viewers couldn’t get enough and cheered when the two characters married in the season finale. But that ending, as satisfying as it was, summarily meant the end of the Golden Girls as fans knew them. 

Sources: BoyCulture, WhatCulture
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Alice Ghostley is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Golden Girls Guest Stars, Ranked
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY

Played: Mrs. Zbornak  
Episode: “Mother’s Day”  

Ghostley was considered the Amy Poehler of her time. The improv actor was excellent on stage, as well as on the large and small screens. She was the bumbling witch Esmeralda on Bewitched and Bernice Clifton on Designing Women.   

She played Dorothy’s curmudgeonly ex-mother-in-law on Golden Girls. After we see Stan’s mother, we totally get it. Secretly, she likes Dorothy but won’t let on. Ghostley normally plays lovable characters so Mrs. Zbornak was a fun departure for her.  

Source: BoyCulture
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Dick Van Dyke is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Golden Girls Guest Stars, Ranked
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY

Played: Ken Whittingham  
Episode: “Love Under the Big Top”  

Van Dyke was already a legend by the time he played Dorothy’s love interest who wants to give up his law practice to become a full time professional clown. Alas, the joke was on him as Dorothy did not ride around in his clown car and that was that. Ta da!

Van Dyke learned that playing opposite of Bea Arthur was no joke and required using all of his comedy skills. In fact, Golden Girls helped to establish the dramedy genre.

Source: WhatCulture
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