Yesterday was Father's Day and since my dad passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease my surviving family members and I are now destined to seek out other avenues for celebration. Indeed it still is a celebration since my surviving siblings and I had a wonderful dad who always put his family first. He loved our mother and he loved us. We miss him very much. My sister, my brother-in-law, my lovely and downright adorable mother and I had a shasta daisy kind of fabulous day (the memory of my father came up in conversation about every 15 minutes). We had a superb meal in Chicago's Greek Town, walked along the stunning Chicago lakefront looking up at the just as stunning Chicago skyline and toured the John Dillinger death sites. Our dad was a gangster buff, so this seemed like a perfect tribute to our much loved father. The refrigerator in my mother's house still has an Al Capone fridge magnet sitting in the bottom left hand corner which it shares with magnets of Jesus, Santa and the United States Navy. Also, Johnny Depp is in town shooting the upcoming "Public Enemies" film which is perhaps the 99th time John Dillinger will be the central character in a film. Having made my sarcastic remark, this is a Dillinger film I'm looking forward to. Johnny Depp is in it and that alone will make it worth the wait. I've liked Depp since "21 Jump Street" and he has progressed into one of our finest actors. I can only hope that his portrayal of that other JD will land him an Oscar! About time.
Alas, on with the point... After my long day out enjoying the sights and sounds of the city and being with loved ones I came home last night relatively pooped out. I plopped myself on a big comfy chair only to land on TV Land's annual awards presentation. I've never watched one of these TV Land specials, but I am always fascinated as to how they manage to get everyone and I do mean everyone to show up for the festivities. I didn't watch much of it since I was tired out, but I did catch the reunion of three of the four "Golden Girls."
"The Golden Girls" premiered back in September of 1985 and in 1985 I was still young enough to care about going out on every single Saturday night, but I usually waited to depart the house until after the weekly adventures of Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, Blanche Devereaux and Sophia Petrillo. If truth be told I usually watched this show with my mom and dad and then went out maybe one or two Saturday nights a month. Just waiting for my prince to come - knocking on the door! In those days, I had guys crawling all over me, but I didn't appreciate it. I was a brat waiting for the perfect guy. It wasn't until late in 1992 that I realized there are no perfect people - starting with me.
"The Golden Girls" were four of the most fleshed out and fully developed characters in television. The four leads always remained consistently in character, yet they were never predictable. These four actresses were finely tuned comic timing preciseness experts. By the time, "The Golden Girls" made its NBC debut no one would have thought that a group of aging women could be centerpieces for a massive hit show. Shockingly, the senior citizens became a top ten show. Could this happen now in our "we've been nibbled to death" world of network television? I don't think so. I'm not being cynical, but I am being realistic and practical. At the time Betty White and Bea Arthur were 63 years old, Estelle Getty was 62 years old (obviously playing much older) and the young one, Rue was only 51 years old. Today, they would come off as ancient and not hip and cool. I guess hip and cool is now "Wipeout." Great news?!
"The Golden Girls" is still one of the funniest shows ever! Most shows from this era haven't aged well. I won't go into details since we are a positive site, but the reality is even some of my favorite shows are now unwatchable . I still catch an episode on Lifetime from time to time and it's not just a chuckle show - it's a laugh out loud show. The comedy is largely drawn from the characters themselves; and from the four intensely gifted women who would interpret and define these characters. Think of the way Frank Sinatra interpreted "Summer Wind," "Time After Time" or "All Or Nothing At All" and then think of the way Betty, Bea, Rue and Estelle became Rose, Dorothy, Blanche and Sophia.
Watching them last night on TV Land shocked me a bit. I was stunned at how old they all got. Betty's 86 year old self was not surprising since she has continued to work consistently since the show went off the air in 1992. She's pretty much still everywhere including on the latest version of "Password." We usually aren't shocked by our own aging process or even by those around us since we see our family, friends and even acquaintances consistently, so we age in the natural way and we accept it. That's life, but when you haven't seen someone in a long time you are shocked by the aging process. It has been 23 years since TGG first landed on our television screens and I'm pleased they were awarded the pop culture award last night whatever that really means.
Fortunately, the Golden Girls will live on for many years to come. Thanks to our 500 channel universe they will no doubt always land somewhere. The talents, gifts and abilities of those four actresses will continue long after they are gone and for that matter they will most likely be entertaining people long after I'm gone.
In hindsight, could there have been a more perfect theme song for "The Golden Girls" than the Andrew Gold hit from the 1970's? There is a verse you never hear in the TGG version, but it is a vital part of the original top forty hit.
"And when we get older with walking canes and hair of gray
Have no fear, even though it's hardly here
I will stand real close and say thank you for being a friend." Andrew Gold
My love of good television (and lack of worthy dates) kept me home enjoying that show. I was watching with my mom and dad; and in a way we all thought of these characters as friends - friends we encountered on Saturday nights. Fortunately, for me I spent many of these nights with my two best friends - mom and dad - I say to them and to the golden girls as well - thank you for being a friend.
To my dad who now resides in glory - happy father's day. Daddy-O, I will always love you. Your little Judith Anne!