Here’s a lovely little featurette about the first season of The Golden Girls. It’s got some great shots of the set, some wonderful interviews, a few fact bombs, and a shot of a shooting script.
The decision to swap the roles of Betty White and Rue McClanahan was taken rather late in the show’s development, with White in the more familar role that Rue is now famous for. This choice, to go against type, is what finally convinced Bea Arthur to sign on.
Miami Nice was a (terrible) working title for the show, and has its roots in the early stages of development too. Have a look at this sketch, as performed for the upfront show for NBC’s 1984-85 schedule.
Warren Littlefield, the Senior Vice President of NBC loved this moment so much that he asked Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions to come up with a pilot script. Writing the pilot was Susan Harris, who was in semi-retirement after the end of her hit series Soap. She made the characters older than requested, and Littlefield loved it, running around NBC telling everyone how great the script was, and how it was just a really good sitcom. He wasn’t wrong.