R.I.P. Rue McClanahan

And Then There Was One.

76-year-old Oklahoma-born actress Rue McClanahan died today at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital after she suffered a stroke and subsequently a brain haemorrhage.

McClanahan had triple bypass surgery in November last year and suffered a minor stroke in January while recovering from surgery.

One of the first celebrity animal welfare advocates, McClanahan had a career spanning six decades including nineteen films from 1961 to 2008 such as “Some of My Best Friends Are..”, “The Rotten Apple,” “Starship Troopers,” “Walk the Angry Beach” and “They Might Be Giants”.

However it was television where she had her biggest successes starting with her role on the daytime soaps “Another World” and “Where the Heart Is”. She first teamed with the late Bea Arthur on the classic 70’s sitcom “Maude” in which she played the titular character’s best friend.

It was their next pairing together though that made her an international star – “The Golden Girls”. Running for seven years, the sharply-penned multi-Emmy winning show had McClanahan playing the man-crazy Southern belle Blanche Devereaux who often scored some of the raunchiest and best lines on the sitcom.

With Estelle Getty’s death in 2008 and Arthur’s death in 2009, Betty White remains the last of the ‘Girls’ still alive. In an official statement released a few hours ago, White says “Rue was a close and dear friend. I treasured our relationship. It hurts more than I ever thought it would, if that’s even possible.”

To her family, friends and countless fans – our sincerest condolences. To Rue herself… thank you for being a friend.