Betty White’s ‘Golden Girls’ castmate called her the c-word, casting director claims

Joel Thurm knows why things may have been a tad sour between Bea Arthur and "America's Sweetheart" Betty White.

The actresses, who famously starred in "The Golden Girls," played good pals on screen, but things were different behind the scenes.

Thurm, who oversaw the casting of the Emmy-winning sitcom as head of talent for NBC, claimed that Arthur used colorful language to describe the comedienne. The allegation was made in his book, "Sex, Drugs & Pilot Season: Confessions of a Casting Director," where he dished on his time in Hollywood.

In the tell-all, Thurm claimed that Arthur once referred to White off-camera as "a c---."

"Whatever disagreements these women had in private, they never interfered with the show itself," he wrote.

Thurm told Fox News Digital he knew why Arthur, who passed away in 2009 at age 86, didn’t hold back in her sentiment.

"It was well known that Bea didn’t like Betty," Thurm claimed. "She felt Betty wasn’t ‘a real actress.’ She was a little right in that because Betty was more of a personality. Yes, she had acted before, but Betty White didn’t prepare the same that Bea did. Bea was the type of actress who needed time to prepare. You couldn’t disturb her. She would get upset after losing her concentration whenever Betty White would be gabbing and just having fun with the crew during breaks in between shooting. It was nothing really more horrible than that, but no, she didn’t like her."

THE GOLDEN GIRLS -- Season 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, Betty White as Rose Nylund-- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank

The show, which ran from 1985 to 1992, told the comical tale of four single women in Miami retirement. It starred Arthur and White, as well as Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. White played Rose, a gentle but dim widow who drove her roommates crazy with off-the-wall stories about childhood in fictional St. Olaf, Minnesota.

Getty, who played the cantankerous but charming matriarch Sophia Petrillo, was younger than her TV daughter Arthur. McClanahan starred as man-obsessed Southern belle Blanche Devereaux.

"Estelle was at the beginning stage of dementia and couldn’t remember her lines," said Thurm. "So her lines were written on her palms. In the show, Estelle would be eating things out of her palms. Little raisins or something. Well, she was eating things out of her palms, so she could see what was written below. That’s why [the show] was done so well – you’re not supposed to know that."

"But sometimes she would mess up with that," Thurm continued. "And Betty White, just to keep things going and keep the audience laughing, would make a gesture with her thumb to her mouth and point to Estelle, as if Estelle had been drinking. It was very innocent, but Bea did not like that. She thought it was very cruel."

Thurm previously spoke out about the alleged feud during a 2022 appearance on "The Originals" podcast.

"Literally Bea Arthur, who I cast in something else later on, just said, ‘Oh, she’s a f---ing c---,’ using that word," Thurm explained. "... She called her the c-word. I mean, I heard that with my own ears. And by the way, so did Rue McClanahan. Rue McClanahan said it to me in Joe Allen’s; Bea Arthur on the set of ‘Beggars and Choosers.'"

Thurm's publicist clarified to Fox News Digital at the time that McClanahan did not use the c-word to describe White, but instead claimed the actress said that White "could be a b----" during an outing at Joe Allen’s.

Thurm claimed in his book that like Arthur, McClanahan also felt that White’s gesture to keep things funny whenever Getty forgot her lines was "very unkind."

Still, that did not stop the show from becoming a massive hit.

"It’s still so popular today because of the combination of those actresses and the incredible writing of Susan Harris," said Thurm. "And we gotta throw in the director Jay Sandrich. When he entered the picture, Rue and Betty’s roles were reversed. It was Jay who said, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong.’ The women agreed, and they wound up with the parts they wanted to play. Betty had already played the man-eater on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and she didn’t want to do that again. But, she would’ve repeated it if I asked. The truth is, she wanted to play the naïve Rose. And Rue was dying to play Blanche. So it worked out."

Getty’s character was not meant to be a permanent one. The last role to be cast was that of gay housekeeper Coco, played by Charles Levin. However, he was dropped after the pilot.

"He got loads of laughs, and the part was his," Thurm wrote in his book. "Susan tried, but the ‘straight’ gay character she wanted just didn’t work. Unfortunately, it became apparent after we’d done the pilot that his character was superfluous. Even though he got a few laughs, there was no way he could compete for screen time with those four women. So out with Coco, and good news for Estelle Getty; whereas Sophia had been initially conceived as a recurring character, now she became the bona fide equal of the big three."

Thurm also described how Elaine Stritch was considered for Arthur’s role, sharp-tongued Dorothy Zbornak. However, she was doomed from the start. Thurm said Harris "had Bea and only Bea in mind for the part." For the reading of the character, Thurm said Stritch was "very nervous," which worsened matters.

"… When she got no laughs she asked to do it over," Thurm explained in his book. "The sound of no laughter is frightening, and even the best actors tend to compensate by pushing harder, which only makes things worse. So it was with Stritch. In her desperation, she added a ‘f---' to Susan’s writing, then apologized. Again, silence. Finally, someone said thank you, and she left the room."

Stritch went on to later play Alec Baldwin’s mother on NBC’s "30 Rock." In her one-woman Broadway show, the actress detailed the disastrous audition and said she blamed her loss of the part on a "slug or two of vodka."

White, who was the last surviving "Golden Girl," died on New Year’s Eve 2021 at age 99.

Back in 2019, Arthur’s son spoke about the rumored feud between his mother and her co-star.

"You know, I’m always being asked the question if my mom hated Betty White," Matthew Saks told Fox News Digital at the time. "It’s not the way it is. I think my mom had some problems with her, but she liked her."

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