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Bea Arthur Thought Betty White Was "Two-Faced," Says "Golden Girls" Insider

Much has been said about the classic TV co-stars' on-set relationship.

They played close friends on The Golden Girls, but behind the scenes, Betty White and Bea Arthur are said to have had a strained relationship, including reports of name-calling and one of them "despising" the other. According to insider reports, Arthur even found White to be "two-faced." In The Girls: From Golden to Gilmore, TV writer Stan Zimmerman opens up about working with the late actors, and he's hardly the first person to share his account of their at times contentious on-set relationship.

RELATED: Bea Arthur Called Betty White a Vulgar Name for Being "Very Unkind," New Book Claims.

For his part, Zimmerman didn't observe the conflict directly.

"During our time on set, I never felt tension between the two," Zimmerman writes in an excerpt published by People. "I only heard stories and recently learned, from producer Marsha Posner Williams on a podcast, that Bea thought Betty was two-faced."

Zimmerman goes on to explain why Arthur may have felt this way.

"Bea liked real people," he says. "I had the sense that Betty was more like Sue Ann Nivens, the character she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, than she was like Rose. More conniving than the innocent airhead from St. Olaf."

Posner Williams spoke out about tension between Arthur and White in an interview with Broadcast Beat.

"Bea Arthur despised Betty White," the producer claimed. "As the cameras moved to the next set, Betty would break character and talk to the audience. Bea hated that. Those two couldn't warm up to each other if they were cremated together! But when that red light went on, it was like they were best friends in the world."

She added, "When you're on a hit show and you want it to keep going, you better make nice and they did."

RELATED: Bea Arthur Threatened to Hit Merv Griffin Because of His Question to Betty White.

A casting director has also spoken out about the co-stars' feelings toward each other. Joel Thurm said on the podcast The Originals that he heard Arthur refer to White as a very bad word years after the show ended. Like Williams, Thurm referenced White talking to the audience as a sticking point for Arthur—though Thurm said Arthur was upset because White joked with the crowd about Estelle Getty forgetting her lines at a time when Getty was showing early signs of dementia.

Thurm clarified that he didn't believe White "was intentionally making fun of Estelle, but rather trying to keep the audience laughing between takes."

And it's not just those close to Golden Girls production who have shared stories about Arthur and White. White commented on the situation herself.

"She was not that fond of me," White said of her co-star, per the Village Voice. "She found me a pain in the neck sometimes. It was my positive attitude—and that made Bea mad sometimes. Sometimes if I was happy, she'd be furious!"

Of course, there are positive accounts of their relationship as well. Co-star Rue McClanahan told the TV Academy (via E! News) that White and Arthur always ate lunch together while they were working. Also, Arthur once passionately defended White against a rude question from Merv Griffin when they appeared on his talk show together during the early days of The Golden Girls.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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