If you’re a fan of the hit ‘80s sitcom The Golden Girls, you probably think of Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, and Rose as THE titular Golden Girls. But you may be surprised to learn there were actually many others. Here are five additional Golden Girls who were always just off camera, gnashing their teeth and throwing chicken bones at the main Golden Girls.
Ludith made her debut appearance in Season 1, Episode 8, where she was just inches out of frame drooling, gnawing on raw chicken, and hissing at the entire cast while throwing chicken bones at them. Bettie White, Bea Arthur, and the rest of the onscreen cast did such a great job of not being distracted by Ludith’s disturbed guttural moans as she ripped out fistfuls of her own hair that you really couldn’t tell she was even there. But she always was. Always.
While the lead actors on a TV show get all of the spotlight, a lot goes on behind the scenes to make a show great. Take Geribold for instance. She was never seen in an episode because her character was always writhing on the floor in a pool of her own urine, begging the main Golden Girls for food scraps and trying to bite their ankles, but the constant danger she posed motivated the actors to deliver great performances in just one or two takes, thus minimizing the opportunities for Geribold to shred their achilles tendons with her jagged, rotting teeth. Why the camera never panned down to reveal Geribold convulsing in her own filth with her eyes rolled back in her head is unknown, but she was a Golden Girl all the same.
Blanche may have been the horny one, but Peff was the blood-smeared one. Goat blood, chicken blood, and even her own, this wacky character was eager to smear whatever blood she could get her gnarled, blistered hands on, even if the cameras didn’t catch it. Bea Arthur once recalled that working on set with Peff was a persistent challenge because the set was always slick or sticky with all manners of blood and viscera, but the energy she brought to the set was crucial in making The Golden Girls such a special show.
The Golden Girls was ahead of its time in many ways, covering subjects that were rarely discussed on primetime TV such as same-sex relationships, suicide, and Alzheimer’s disease. But even more impressive, it’s the only sitcom to this day that had a veritable swarm of off-camera elderly actors furiously grinding their teeth while shrieking things like “Remove my skin!” and “Please let me die!” with demonic intensity. Hothrietta was one of the many “underground” Golden Girls who were rumored to live in secret subterranean passageways beneath the set, occasionally cannibalizing child actors who’d been cast in bit parts. “We all stuck together,” said Betty White in a 2013 interview. “If the studio asked why we need to have 30+ elderly women who were never shown on screen swinging roadkill around their heads and fighting over human children’s bones, we’d say ‘Buzz off, they are just as much Golden Girls as we are.’ And the show was so popular the studio couldn’t do a damn thing about it.”
Relba is the only “off screen” Golden Girl who was ever accidentally shown on The Golden Girls, when her withered, feces-caked hand could be briefly seen reaching up out of a toilet bowl in the background of a scene in Season 4, Episode 13. After the clip was discovered by keen-eyed viewers, NBC quickly removed the episode from air, and shortly thereafter the editor responsible for the slipup disappeared and was later found nailed to the ceiling of an abandoned barn. However, one fan managed to record the episode before it was taken down, and copies of the legendary “Relba Scene” are still traded among diehard Golden Girls fans to this day.