The Golden Girls won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. It also won three Golden Globes for outstanding TV series comedy/musical. All four stars each received an Emmy Award throughout the series' run and each had multiple nominations. It also ranked among the top ten highest-rated programs for six out of its seven seasons.
| Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak (née Petrillo) was raised in Brooklyn, New York by her mother Sophia and her father Salvadore "Sal" Petrillo. Nicknamed "Pussycat" by her mother, Dorothy had a younger brother and sister. Brother Phil, a cross-dresser, was never seen on the show. Sister Gloria, the youngest Petrillo, married into money; she appeared in two episodes.
A few weeks after their high school prom, Stanley "Stan" Zbornak got Dorothy pregnant and married her to legitimize the baby. Stan and Dorothy were married for 38 years, although Stan cheated on her numerous times, finally leaving her for a young flight attendant named Chrissy. Dorothy had two children with Stan, Kate and Michael.
After moving to Miami in her later years, Dorothy continued working as a substitute teacher. Though Dorothy and Stan were divorced, he made numerous appearances on the show, usually running to Dorothy whenever something went wrong in his life, and always opening with the line "Hi...it's me, Stan".
| Rose Nylund
Rose Nylund (née Lindstrom) was from the small farming town of St. Olaf, Minnesota, a community of Scandinavian-Americans. Rose loved telling profoundly strange stories of life growing up there. Typical stories focused on people with names such as Hans, Lars, or Sven and various experiences with herring. Though Rose was decidedly the mildest-mannered of all four roommates, she had an incredibly competitive streak, which reared its head during several situations, most notably the bowling championship in the episode entitled The Competition and while coaching a boys' football team with Dorothy.
Rose was known for being quite naive and taking the meaning of everything literally. For example, Dorothy once mentioned that she once cut off Stan's sex, prompting Rose to ask, "You mean it grows back?" She was considered rather stupid by the other characters but occasionally offered superior insight and knowledge. She once helped Dorothy install a new toilet and exhibited thorough knowledge of plumbing parts, and claimed that the Journal of Abnormal Psychology was published in St. Olaf and that she'd read every issue.
Rose's husband Charlie had died before the series. He and Rose had several children, most of whom appeared onscreen during the series, as did other members of Rose' large family. Rose held various jobs throughout the series.
| Blanche Devereaux
Blanche Elizabeth Marie Devereaux (née Hollingsworth), daughter of Elizabeth Ann "Big Mommy" Bennett Roquet Hollingsworth and Curtis "Big Daddy" Hollingsworth, was a Southern belle who grew up on a plantation named Twin Oaks outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and raised a Baptist. Blanche was always "the apple of her father's eye". Blanche had a love-hate relationship with her sisters Charmaine and Virginia. She also faced difficulty coming to terms with the homosexuality of her brother Clay and the mental illness of her brother Tad.
The house that the ladies shared, at 6151 Richmond St., initially belonged to Blanche, who had lived there for many years with her late husband George Devereaux. Later in the series, however, she sold equal shares of the house to Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia. Blanche and George possibly had 6 children: two daughters Rebecca and Janet (both of whom made appearances on the show) and four sons (including Matthew (who appeared in the spin-off series The Golden Palace).
| Sophia Petrillo
Sophia Petrillo (née Gristani) was born in Sicily and moved to New York after she left Guido Spirelli at the altar (it was to be an arranged marriage). As a teenager, she was briefly engaged to a young man from her village, Augustine Bagatelli. In the fifth season episode The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present, it was revealed that she was also engaged to another young man, Giuseppe Mangiacavallo, when she was 14. He left her at the altar. She married Salvadore "Sal" Petrillo, and they had three children: Dorothy, Phil and Gloria.
Sophia was put away in the Shady Pines Retirement Home by Dorothy prior to the start of the series. Sophia had suffered a massive stroke, which, on more than one occasion, was said to have destroyed the part of her brain that acted as a censor; indeed, much of Sophia's popularity comes from her humorous, and often shocking, frankness and general lack of inhibition. Sophia occasionally pretends to be slightly senile. In the pilot episode, she came to live with the girls after Shady Pines burned down. In a later episode, Sophia tried to run away to Sicily after becoming the prime suspect in starting the fire after making s'mores with a roommate on an illegal hotplate. Sophia never had good things to say about her retirement home, and she alluded to poor treatment by the staff many times throughout the series' run (although, in an episode meant to raise awareness about poor-quality nursing homes, she did admit that the treatment at Shady Pines was satisfactory). There were constant hints in the series that she and her family back in Sicily had some mafia connections; she once stated that she had lived through "two world wars, 15 vendettas, 4 operations and two Darrens on Bewitched." In one episode, she accidentally let it slip that she knew what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.