The Television Crossover Hall of Fame wraps up its mini-salute to ‘The Golden Girls’ with the December induction of Blanche Devereaux. I saved her for last because her name is from the French word for “white” and I think she would like to delude herself that when everyone is singing “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas”, they are really singing about her during the holiday.
Blanche Devereaux is a character from the sitcom television series ‘The Golden Girls’, and its spin-off ‘The Golden Palace’.
Blanche was portrayed by Rue McClanahan for 8 years and 204 episodes across the two series. Outside [those two series], Blanche appears in the ‘Empty Nest’ episode "Fatal Attraction" and the ‘Nurses’ episode "Moon Over Miami".
(O’Bservation - She also appeared in the Earth Day TV special in a sketch with her other three roommates.)
Blanche Elizabeth Marie Hollingsworth grew up near Atlanta, Georgia, at her family's plantation, Twin Oaks. Her parents were the late Elizabeth-Ann Margaret Bennett (later seasons named her "Samantha Roquet") and Curtis "Big Daddy" Hollingsworth.
Much to young Blanche's dismay, her father married a young widow named Margaret Spencer years after Blanche's mother died, but she begrudgingly accepted the marriage. As a young child, she had a mammy (nanny) named Viola Watkins who took care of her before abruptly leaving one day. After her father's death, she learned that he and Viola had been secret lovers for many years and Viola left their family after Blanche's mother found out.
Blanche is a member of "the Alpha Gams" (Alpha Gamma Delta), but which university she attended is not known. On a few occasions, Blanche states that she is of the Baptist faith. She is proud of her status as a Southern debutante, but was shocked to learn, when tracing her family history, that she had a New York born Jewish great-grandmother, Rosalyn Feldman of Buffalo, New York, which prevented her from joining the Daughters of the Old South.
Blanche is the third of five Hollingsworth children. Charmaine Hollingsworth is the spoiled oldest sister, who infuriated Blanche when she wrote a sordid novel which Blanche thought was about her. When it was revealed that the book was about Charmaine and not Blanche, they made up and apologized to each other.
The next sibling is Blanche's brother Tad. (Near the end of ‘The Golden Palace’, Blanche was revealed to have a mentally challenged older brother, Tad Hollingsworth, who spent most of his life in a Chattanooga institution.)
Blanche's sister Virginia Hollingsworth Warren, with whom Blanche shares a mutual loathing, is one year her junior. They buried the hatchet when Virginia went into kidney failure and Blanche offered her kidney to her sister. However, their relationship became strained once more after their argument following Big Daddy's death, in which Virginia accused Blanche of being too selfish and self-centered to say goodbye to her own father.
The fifth Hollingsworth child is Clayton Hollingsworth, who appears in season four (1988) and season six (1991). When Clayton tells Blanche that he is gay, she struggles to accept his sexuality, but eventually does after Clayton intends to marry his boyfriend Doug.
Blanche was faithfully married for decades to her husband, George Devereaux. George died (in a car accident) in either 1981 or 1982, three or four years before the start of the series in 1985, and at some point earlier they had moved from Atlanta to Miami.
At various times over the course of the series, Blanche mentions the names of five children: Janet, Rebecca, Matthew "Skippy", Doug, and "Biff". However, in the third-season episode "Bringing Up Baby", when Dorothy questions an impulsive car purchase, Blanche says to her: "I have had four children, I have never had a Mercedes". She mentions three sons – Skippy, Biff, and Doug – in the episode "Bringing Up Baby", and Skippy's proper name (Matthew) was mentioned in the episode "To Catch a Neighbor". Blanche seems very protective of her youngest child, as when hilariously offering one of her sons to Dorothy in exchange for a Mercedes she says: "Which one do you want? Biff, Doug, Skippy? No, don't take Skippy. He has asthma." (“Skippy” appeared on an episode of ‘The Golden Palace’.)
During the series, Blanche learns that her husband George also had 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, as she frequently left her children to nannies and housekeepers. She had a strained relationship with both of her daughters, especially Janet, something that led to some of the most dramatic storylines, as she expressed regrets that she was not there for her children more, and it is loosely implied that she might have even been emotionally abusive to them when they were growing up.
However, Blanche slowly rebuilt her relationships with Janet and Rebecca throughout the series. By the time the series ended, both Rebecca and Janet had healed their relationships with their mother.
Blanche's daughter, Rebecca, was seen most often on the show, although Blanche and she had frequent falling outs and bitter fights. When Rebecca was introduced, she was overweight and about to marry a verbally abusive man. Later in the series, they fought over a slimmed-down Rebecca's decision to be artificially inseminated and raising the baby without a father. Rebecca decided to visit a birthing center saying: "Hospitals have a rigid way of doing things." After hearing a frightening shriek, Rebecca changes her mind and lets her mother take her to a hospital and even lets her help with the labor in the delivery room, where Rebecca gave birth to her daughter Aurora. They then feuded again when Blanche's new suitor mistook her for Aurora's mother and Blanche, who was actually babysitting, went along with it. Upon the truth being revealed, Rebecca accused Blanche of using Aurora to "get a man". In each case, they eventually made up again, which was something Blanche seems not to have entirely done with Janet.
Blanche seems very protective of her youngest child, as when hilariously offering one of her sons to Dorothy in exchange for a Mercedes she says: "Which one do you want? Biff, Doug, Skippy? No, don't take Skippy. He has asthma."
Besides Aurora, Blanche has at least three other grandchildren: David, Melissa, and Sarah, all born to Janet, who married a "Yankee". Blanche's 14 year-old grandson David visited the girls in the first season, but was unhappy and rebellious, due to problems in his home life. Sophia eventually hit him for being disrespectful. After David confided in Blanche, she told Janet that she wanted David to live with her, leading to a bitter falling out between mother and daughter.
Blanche also has a promiscuous niece named Lucy (Hallie Todd), who visits her during the first season.
Here are the shows which qualified Blanche Devereaux for membership in the TVXOHOF:
THE GOLDEN GIRLS
THE GOLDEN PALACE
Welcome to the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, Miz Devereaux.
I’m sure your pals and confidantes have been eager to reunite with you in Hall….