- “...and no one ever, steals a man from Blanche Devereaux!”
- — Blanche to 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 Louis "Clay" Hollingsworth, whose subsequent revelation as being gay troubled Blanche to some extent, and her reluctance to accept Clayton's sexual orientation nearly cost her her relationship with him - especially after he got engaged to marry a gay policeman named Doug. During The Golden Palace, it is revealed that Blanche has a mentally challenged older brother, Theodore Hunter "Tad" 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 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, and Elliot lies when confronted by Dorothy. Blanche is so upset she asks Dorothy to leave. After Rose worms the truth out in front of Dorothy, she dumps Elliot and gives Blanche an apology which she accepts. Gil Kessler, a 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 re-election 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 who claimed she lost her virginity more than once, except that she couldn't remember if the first time was with Billy or Bobby. 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 storylines as she expressed regrets that she wasn't there for her children more.
Blanche also had a falling out with her daughter, Rebecca (Shawn Schepps) over her decision to drop out of school to pursue a modeling career in Paris. When Rebecca returned 4 years later, she was overweight and engaged to a man named Jeremy (Joe Regalbuto) who did nothing but insult. Blanche tried to convince Rebecca to break up with Jeremy, and Rebecca once again accused her mother of trying to control her life and stormed out. On the way to the airport, she realized her mother was right and returned to her mother and told her she dumped Jeremy.
Rebecca (now played by Debra Engle) lost the extra pounds and returned a few years later, and she said she was going to have a baby through artificial insemination. Blanche made no secret of her disapproval of her daughter having a baby out of wedlock and raising the baby without a father. Blanche and Rebecca visited a fertility clinic with Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia joining them, and she called the doctor "a sperm pusher" and told everyone she didn't want "a test tube for a son-in-law." Rebecca decides to leave, and Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia talk to Blanche about her behavior, and reminded her that Rebecca is a grown woman who could make any decisions she wanted with her own life. Blanche realized that her own pride wasn't worth risking losing relationships with her daughter and grandchild and decided to accept Rebecca's decisions.
While Rebecca was pregnant, she decided have her baby in Florida instead of at home with her own doctor so Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia could be there for the baby's birth. They joined Rebecca when she decided to visit a birthing center as an alternative. Rebecca said: "Hospitals have a rigid way of doing things." After they hear screams and then a horrible shriek from a mother giving birth, they decide that the hospital is a better option. Blanche still feels embarrassed about the decisions Rebecca made, and Rebecca decides to leave the next morning, taking her baby with her. That night, Rebecca experiences contractions and she's taken to the hospital, and Blanche is with her in the delivery room when she gives birth to a baby daughter, Aurora Devereaux.
Rebecca later visits again with Aurora (a name Blanche hates because it's not "musical" or "Southern" enough and she even called her "Oreo"). Unfortunately, Aurora is the catalyst of one more major conflict between Rebecca and Blanche when Blanche meets a man named Jason (Alan Rachins) while babysitting Aurora. Jason assumes that Blanche is Aurora's mother rather than her grandmother, and Blanche is so flattered that she fails to correct him. When Jason finds out the truth, he breaks off their relationship, and Rebecca accuses Blanche of using her granddaughter to "land a man" and decides to leave and never speak to her mother again until Sophia convinces her to reconcile so Aurora doesn't grow up without having her grandmother in her life.
Blanche also has at least four grandchildren: David, Melissa, and Sarah (all born to Janet, who married a "Yankee"), as well as Rebecca's daughter, 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-nine years old.
Blanche acts as both a landlady and a housemate to Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo. Rose are 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.
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. For example, in the very first episode of the series, Sophia had bluntly told Blanche "You look like a prostitute". Her doctor in or until the year 1992 was Amanda Riskin.
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 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 2021, she would be 89 years old.
- Blanche is a Baptist.
- Mentioned at 7:33 in Camp Town Races Aren't Nearly as Much Fun as They Used to Be: "This flag belonged to great-great-granddaddy Hollingsowrth".
- Mentioned at 7:50 in Camp Town Races Aren't Nearly as Much Fun as They Used to Be: "And Cousin Rex would be home on vacation from Colonel Bob's School for Bad Boys."