- “...and no one ever, steals a man from Blanche Devereaux!”
- — Blanche on Sophia, who is dating her boyfriend, Fidel Santigo.
Blanche Elizabeth Marie Devereaux (née Hollingsworth) was one of the four main characters on the 1985-1992 NBC sitcom The Golden Girls and its spin-off The Golden Palace. The character also appeared in the related series Empty Nest and Nurses. In the pilot episode of The Golden Girls, her last name was given as Hollingsworth, but this was somewhat "corrected" in later episodes by making this her maiden name. Blanche was portrayed by Rue McClanahan.
Blanche was in awe of and revered her father, Curtis Hollingsworth (portrayed by Murray Hamilton, David Wayne), who was known to everyone as "Big Daddy". Much to her dismay, he married a young widow named Margaret Spencer - years after her mother (and namesake) Elizabeth had died. Blanche was not at Big Daddy's side when he died because she was attending a ball in Miami, and refused to go to his funeral because of an argument with her sister, Virginia. Blanche regretted this afterward and resolved to try to rethink her priorities in life. She and Dorothy Zbornak eventually went to the cemetery, where Blanche said "hi" to her mother and father, and prayed at their coffins. After Big Daddy died, it was revealed that he and Blanche's long-lost African-American nanny, Viola "Mammy" Watkins, had an affair that lasted for fifty years.
Blanche has four siblings: Charmaine Gertrude Hollingsworth, the eldest sister, who infuriates Blanche when she writes a sordid novel that tells about Blanche's sex life. It is revealed that the novel is actually about Charmaine's sexual escapades and the two make peace. Virginia Lena Warren, the prudent and spoiled youngest sister, with whom Blanche shared a mutual loathing. They buried the hatchet when Virginia went into renal failure and Blanche offered her kidney to her sister, but their relationship became strained once more after their argument after Big Daddy's death in which Virginia accused Blanche of being too selfish and self-centered to say goodbye to her own father. Blanche's year-younger brother, Clayton "Clay" Louis Hollingsworth, whose subsequent revelation as being gay troubled Blanche to some extent; Blanche's reluctance to accept Clayton's sexual orientation nearly cost her a relationship with him. During The Golden Palace, it is revealed that Blanche has a mentally challenged older brother, Theodore "Tad" Hunter Hollingsworth, who had spent most of his life in a Chattanooga Institution. It was once revealed, when she was attempting to gain entry to the DOS (Daughters of the South), that she is 1/8 Jewish, her great-grandmother having been a Jewish woman named Rosalyn Feldman-Roquet from Buffalo, New York, who married her great-grandfather, Walker Roquet. Blanche also had a visit from her promiscuous niece, Lucy War.
For most of her life, she was married to high school sweetheart George Devereaux. From the back-story, he died a few years prior.
In a 1990 episode, Blanche had a dream that George came back from the dead nine years later (he said that he faked his death after his business partner's embezzlement.) Rue McClanahan has said that George was the love of Blanche's life and that her promiscuity was, in fact, a desperate search for the next love of her life. However, in one episode, Blanche admitted that she was having a pedicure on the day of George's death, despite the fact that George stepped on a land mine. (Yet in another episode, George died instantly in a car accident while she was at home when a police officer phoned her the news.)
During her senior year in high school, on December 25, 1949, she almost eloped with the father of her rival at cheerleading with the sole purpose of having her taken off the squad.
On the show, Blanche has been shown to have dated various men, some of them unsavory. She almost married a bigamist in the pilot episode before he got caught by the police. Another man stole her necklace at her full moon-leap year's party, and he too was caught by the police. One boyfriend named Rex was emotionally and verbally abusive until her roommate Dorothy helped her see his true colors. Another boyfriend Gary (Jerry Hardin) cheated on her under her very roof by sleeping with Rose's sister Holly Lindstrom (Inga Swenson) who was visiting. Blanche overcame her apprehension of dating Ted (Hugh Farrington), who is in a wheelchair, only to find out he is married, so she terminated the relationship based on the fact that she has never been the "other woman" in extramarital affairs. The only other time that occurred was when, through a bizarre turn-of-events, her beau's wife was revived by paramedics after she was declared dead. But Blanche has also ruined good relationships with worthy men: Jake (Donnelly Rhodes) wanted to marry her but she turned him down and regretted it later, and when Steven (Robert Mandan) was hospitalized, she refused to visit him until much later, by which time he reconciled with his ex-girlfriend.
Sometimes Blanche's sex life was used against her. When Elliot Clayton made a pass at her, she told Dorothy but she doesn't believe Blanche, Elliot lies when confronted by Dorothy. Blanche is so upset she asks Dorothy to leave, however after Rose worms the truth out in front of Dorothy she dumps Elliot and gives Blanche an apology which she accepts. When the girls are rallying against a road extension which would destroy a landmark tree the owner Frida Claxton threatens to show pictures of Blanche's sex life and maybe the commissioners who she slept with.
Gil Kessler an councilman is accused of having an affair with Blanche after she helps him with a speech all night, despite her calming innocence Gil tells everyone the rumors were true and when Blanche confronts Gil he admits that he lied for his reelection as he is dull. But seeing how much he hurt Blanche he confesses the truth in a televised speech in front of Dorothy and Rose who believed him. In a later series Blanche was accused by Rose of sleeping with Charlie when she has photos of his last trip developed that show him and Blanche in the same bed. Nevertheless, Rose is unable to forgive Blanche even when her diaries suggest that the fling might have happened. Only when Dorothy looks at the rest of photos does the truth come out: the remaining pictures were of Blanche and another man. The affair photo was a double exposure and the "Chuck" was somebody else.
On the show, Blanche is portrayed as a promiscuous woman. She spends a great deal of her time with members of the opposite sex, much to the disgust and amusement of her roommates. Blanche's seemingly liberated sexual behavior was a contrast to the sexual climate of the 1980s, when AIDS was beginning to seep into the American nation's consciousness. However, in the episode "72 Hours", it is mentioned that Blanche is cognizant of the dangers of HIV; she always uses protection and knows every lover's full sexual history.
There are a total of five children mentioned between Blanche and her late husband George: two daughters (Janet and Rebecca, both of whom appeared in the series) and three sons (Biff, Doug, and Skippy, all mentioned in the episode "Bringing Up Baby". "Skippy" is thought to be a nickname for youngest son Matthew, who is mentioned (as Matthew) in the episode "To Catch a Neighbor" and makes an onscreen appearance on an episode of The Golden Palace, played by southern comic Bill Engvall. During the series, Blanche learns that George had a sixth child, a son named David, as the result of an affair.
During the course of the show, Blanche is revealed not to have been very 'hands-on' as a mother. She has a strained relationship with her daughters. Especially with Janet, something that led to some of the most dramatic story lines as she expressed regrets that she wasn't there for her children more.
Prior to the series' beginning, Blanche had a falling out with her daughter Rebecca (Shawn Schepps) over Rebecca's decision to drop out of school to pursue a modeling career in Paris. When Rebecca returns, she is significantly overweight and engaged to an emotionally abusive man named Jeremy (Joe Regalbuto). Blanche tried to convince Rebecca that Jeremy wasn't good enough for her, and Rebecca once again accused her mother of trying to control her life and stormed out. She soon realized Blanche was right and dumped Jeremy.
Rebecca eventually lost the extra pounds and returned a few seasons later (now played by Debra Engle), deciding that she wanted to have a baby through artificial insemination. Blanche made no secret of the fact that Rebecca's decision embarrassed her, and mother and daughter once again stopped speaking, until Blanche realized that her pride wasn't worth losing a relationship with her daughter and the grandchild and decided to accept the decision.
Rebecca later gives birth to a daughter, Aurora (a name Blanche hates because it's not "musical" or "Southern" enough, in her estimation). Aurora is the catalyst of one more major conflict between Rebecca and Blanche, when Blanche meets a man named Jason (Alan Rachins) while baby-sitting Aurora. Jason assumes that Blanche is Aurora's mother rather than grandmother, and Blanche is so flattered that she fails to correct him. When Jason finds out the truth, he breaks off the relationship, and Rebecca accuses Blanche of using her granddaughter to "land a man" and once again stops speaking to her mother, until Sophia convinces her to reconcile and not let Aurora grow up without a grandmother.
Blanche also has at least four grandchildren: David, Melissa, and Sarah (all born to Janet, who married a "Yankee"), as well as Rebecca's child, Aurora.
Blanche is the youngest of the 4 women living in the house she owns. Although it is widely believed that her exact age was never revealed (Rose attempts to find out in 1 episode and learns that Blanche's record was "Deleted by Authority of the Governor"),in Season 3, Episode 25 entitled "Mother's Day" (Aired May 7, 1988), it is revealed in a flashback that Blanche was in fact 17 in 1949,meaning she was born in 1932 or 1931, before Christmas and is about a year or 2 younger than Rose and Dorothy. Also, since she said her sister Charmaine was a year ahead of her in school & she was born in 1931 which most likely means that Blanche was born in 1932. That would make her 53 years old when the series began in 1985 and 60 when the spin-off ended in 1993. Although throughout the series, she usually claims to be in her forties (or even younger), the above episode, along with the ages of her children and the fact that she entered menopause in the second-season premiere (average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51) supports the above fact. She claimed in a third-season episode that she was still capable of childbirth despite the fact that she had undergone menopause a full season beforehand, but Dorothy quickly shot down that claim. If Blanche was still alive, she would be eighty seven years old.
Blanche acts as co-roommate and landlady to Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo. Throughout the series, she and Rose are often involved in the same activities, be it auditioning for a play or doing community service projects. Though she is annoyed at times by Rose's constant storytelling, she sees her as both her best friend and a surrogate sister. To be sure, Blanche has her own collection of strange stories which she also shares from time to time, often tales of her rivalry with sisters Virginia and Charmaine or of the promiscuous stunts she pulled as a teenager.
Dorothy Zbornak and Rose NylundEdit
Her relationship with Dorothy is mixed with envy and condemnation on both parts: Dorothy envies and condemns Blanche's being comfortable sexually, while Blanche envies Dorothy's intelligence and singing talents, among other things. And yet, both she and Dorothy at times isolate themselves from Rose, ganging up on her when the latter says anything particularly foolish, and taking turns hitting her on the head with a newspaper or magazine. Their relationship is also symbiotic: in one of the last episodes in the series, Dorothy admits that Blanche has helped her be comfortable with her own sexuality, while Dorothy herself has always served as Blanche's other voice of reason.
With Rose she saw her as a sister, she could see that Rose is good natured but she could be annoyed by her as well. Blanche critiqued her for doing long stories that were pointless, when Rose won tickets for a Frank Sinatra Concert she told Blanche the full story and in anger Blanche told a reduced version to Dorothy. Rose did audition for stage plays as well as Blanche and she would be angry if Rose got her part. However Rose could surprise Blanche, in Old Boyfriends when Rose can't remember an boyfriend from the past Blanche questions how many boyfriends she had only to reveal that she had 56 boyfriends that had Blanche going crazy saying that Rose being like a slut. When Rose talked about her and Charlie's sex life, claiming they made love 3 times a day and Blanche said "good lord no wonder you still mourn that man".
Blanche's relationship with Sophia is also interesting: Blanche sees her both as a mother figure and as a mean old lady, and Sophia sees her as one of her daughters and, very vocally, a streetwalker. (In the very first episode of the series, Sophia had bluntly told Blanche, "You look like a prostitute.")
In an episode called "Yes, We Have no Havanas", Sophia and Blanche became rivals for the affections of an elderly Cuban gentleman named Fidel Santiago (Henry Darrow), and the two women traded particularly nasty insults with each other: Sophia called Blanche a "50-year-old mattress," and Blanche referred to Sophia as a "raisin in sneakers." and a "wrinkled old crow". The rivalry came to an abrupt end when Fidel died suddenly. As it turned out, Fidel was even more promiscuous than Blanche - the congregation at his funeral consisted entirely of women he had been romancing, except for Dorothy and Rose.
- It was revealed in the episode "Love Under the Big Top" that Blanche does not like tuna fish.
|~The Golden Girls~|
| Blanche Devereaux - Dorothy Zbornak - Rose Nylund - Sophia Petrillo |
- Stanley Zbornak - Miles Webber -
- If Blanche was alive in 2016, she would be 83 years old.
- Blanche is a Baptist