Author Jim Colucci has been a friend since I met him in 2008. A fellow TV critic and entertainment journalist, I’ve watched him labor over this amazing compendium of historical information on one of television’s most successful comedies ever.
Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai is Jim’s baby, ten years in the making.
This book has won so many hearts with details and facts, new interviews and never before seen photos that show why this sitcom was a step ahead of them all and why this book is currently a bestseller.
You can tell it was made with love and respect, as Colucci has noted that the large gay fanbase of the series resonated to the “family” these women constructed in old age, where friendships trump blood and humor and wit kept the party going for so long.
Colucci was interviewed by TheTVPage.com and summed it up perfectly: “…I think that the real thematic and deepest appeal is that gays often make their own family. If your biological family was hostile or whatever your problem was, you often end up making your friends your family.
“Here was a foursome — yes, two of them were biologically related, but two of them weren’t — and they prided themselves on being a family. They talked about how they would take care of each other if any of them ever got sick to the point where they were willing to mortgage a house to pay for one’s medical payments if they needed to. It’s that surrogate family thing.”
“The Golden Girls was a show that shouldn’t have worked (four women over fifty living together? In the age of Baywatch?!) but ended up the closest thing to a perfect sitcom in TV history. And Golden Girls Forever takes an affectionate look at why it’s so beloved…” — Wendi McLendon-Covey
Colucci’s book is a page-turner, taking us from conceptualization of what this series was to the very last episode. The fascinating reveals in exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes and never-before-revealed anecdotes, photos, commentary, and even celebrities sharing who they identify with is a blast to read.
The premise of Golden Girls was simple, take four senior women of various temperament, intellect, and comedic sensibilities and find them a nice house in Florida where they could split bills and keep each other company and be there for each other as needed, what could go wrong?
We were introduced to Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and the eldest, Sophia (Estelle Getty). They were the Golden Girls, and for seven years we watched as their friendship evolved, situations were handled and processed and how their friendship melded into a true family dynamic.
Every demographic was hit and responded in droves to watch this series, and it baffled a lot of TV executives. Who would want to watch four old ladies? There was no jiggly Baywatch moment or barely concealed leering of Three’s Company. Nope. This was a slice of humanity that Hollywood has written off as biological roadkill. Colucci artfully shows why thirty years after it first aired, The Golden Girls is still a hot commodity, a cult classic, with dedicated fan fiction writers, podcasts, websites, and of course, the afterlife of all TV: Syndication.
Bursting with fun facts, anecdotes, reminiscences, and insights, Golden Girls Forever is the ultimate companion to the show for fans old and new.
The exhaustive research takes off from The Engagement of Season One (the premiere pilot) where for a moment we see Designing Women star Meshach Taylor cast as a policeman, through episodes 179 & 180, “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest,” as Dorothy prepares to marry Lucas (Leslie Nielsen).
Episode 6 “Rose the Prude” sees Betty White’s commentary inserted here too.
“I love that in this episode they let the romance show between Rose and Artie, Rose was so confused and reluctant, and then all of a sudden, romance won out. This was a rare chance for Rose, she often didn’t get that.”
The book has more of her insight laced throughout.
Episode 49 “To Catch A Neighbor” featuring George Clooney aired on May 2, 1987.
Colucci interviewed Rue McClanahan who told him “He [George Clooney] must have been all of twenty-five and he was so good and so gorgeous! I said, ‘This guy’s got it all. He’s going to have a very big career.”
Colucci takes us below the line too as the art department, production and set design, is given a photo-laced section where production designer Ed Stephenson, Michael Hynes, the art director, and John Shaffner, the assistant art director, reveal how they came up with the “Florida look” and how each character influenced their own spaces.
This is one of my favorite chapters for the insider details, photographs, and little details on how crews really are the unsung “characters” with their artistry and sensibility to create worlds that make the actors’ work seamless. The following chapter celebrates the work of Judy Evans Steele, the costume designer who along with the crack art department, gave us the “looks” for the “Girls” in the chapter called “Miami, You’ve Got Style.” I love her interview and seeing her sketches from the show for each character.
Even the interesting backstory on the theme song is explored as music coordinator Scott Gale tells Colucci how they snagged up-and-comer session singer Cindy Fee.
Towards the very end of the book look for the fun chapter, ‘Which Golden Girl Are You” where Colucci interviews a who’s who of today’s hottest actors who share which Golden Girl thy most relate too. Zachary Quinto says Dorothy is his pick. ” I have a withering stare. And like her, I’m analytical, self-assured and opinionated.” Lance Bass shares he is Sophia. “Sophia because I’m a wise-ass.”
Aren’t we all a little wise-ass at heart? Make this a top pick and priority for the one’s you love this mother’s/father’s day and relive the series in this juicy and intimate book.