Catching Up With The Golden Girls' Susan Harris


By Dustin Fitzharris

Listen, it didn't work. Bea was really missed. Looking back, we were trying to keep it alive because The Golden Girls was a wonderful show, but without Bea and in another form, we should've left it alone.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications said that you 'changed the face of television comedy.' What are your thoughts on that statement?
I don't think I did. I didn't know they had said that. I think they are misinformed. I think Norman Lear did. Absolutely. Norman changed comedy from being about silly people -- women who burned the pot roast -- into something that was real. You could really relate to the characters. There were important things to talk about and important things going on in their lives. It made it possible for me to do what I did after that.

And you worked on the Norman Lear show Maude, which starred Bea Arthur. You wrote the historic episode titled 'Maude's Dilemma,' in which Maude had an abortion. Were you worried about the aftermath of that episode when you were writing it?
No, I'm never worried about those things. I wrote what I wanted to write. At first the episode was going to be about Maude's friend, Vivian, played by Rue [McClanahan]. When I wrote it, Norman said, 'This is much too good to give to Vivian. This has to be for Maude.' I do remember that there were no sponsors for that show at all. Absolutely no advertisers.

TV has come so far. What do you think of the shows today?
You know, I never watch them. I watch news. If I watch any series, it's on cable.

Do you still write?
I'm starting to write again.

What do you think The Golden Girls' legacy will be?
Well, it's been keeping people happy for 25 years and hopefully it will keep them happy for another 25. To me it's amazing that it has been 25 years.

And how about this resurgence of Betty White?
Isn't that wonderful? It's well deserved. There's nobody nicer. She's an amazing talent, but there is nobody nicer than Betty White. She was an absolute joy to work with.

After everything you've done, what are you the most proud of?
My kids. I know it has nothing to do with what you're doing, but that's it.

What's your favorite Golden Girls episode? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Tags: Television