Old School Americana & Nostalgia


How Old Were ‘The Golden Girls’ Characters?

How Old Were ‘The Golden Girls’ Characters?

An ’80s show that not only stood the test of time but remains as popular as ever four decades later, The Golden Girls is a series about four quirky, sassy, and oh-so-lovable grandmas – or is it? Well, yes, by the end of the series, Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose were all grandmothers (Dorothy was the only grandchild-less one of the girls at the series’ start). However, the Golden Girls weren’t nearly as old as you might think.

Consider, for example, that in the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That…, Carrie Bradshaw and the gang are older than the Girls (with the exception of Sophia). Actually – brace yourself for an even more sobering example here – the iconic sextet from Friends is a better comparison. They’re almost exactly the same age as the Golden Quartet was back in the ’80s.

But just how old is that, exactly? How old were The Golden Girls‘ main characters supposed to be? Well, it takes a bit of detective work, as the show never explicitly reveals the ages of Dorothy and Blanche. A true Golden Girls aficionado, however, can piece together the clues.

Sophia Petrillo Was Always Open About Her Age

Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy’s mother and the oldest Golden Girl, is the easiest to determine, as she was always open about her age. In the very first episode of the series, in fact, Blanche (in true Southern fashion) is spinning a rather long-winded tale about losing her husband, George. An impatient Sophia cuts in with, “How long is this story? I’m 80. I have to plan.”

Later, in the Season 2 episode, “A Piece of Cake,” it’s revealed that Sophia celebrated her 50th birthday in April 1956. This would make her 79 at the start of the series in 1985. We can assume she was rounding up a little when she proclaimed herself to be 80 in the pilot.

Dorothy Zbornak Was a Leo, But How Old Was She?

The one thing we know for sure about Dorothy, thanks to the Season 4 episode, “Stan Takes a Wife,” is that she’s a Leo – and therefore very sure of herself. This would put her birthday sometime in the window of late July to late August. How old is Dorothy Zbornak, though? Well, in the Season 3 episode, “Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself,” Sophia tells the story of the night Dorothy was conceived – behind a sausage and pepper stand, of all places!

That spur-of-the-moment rendezvous with Salvador happened in 1931, according to Sophia, which would place Dorothy’s birth in the summer of 1932. When Golden Girls aired in September 1985, Dorothy would’ve been 53 years old.

How Old Was Rose Nylund on ‘The Golden Girls’?

With the exception of Sophia, who never seemed upset by her age (though she made more than one comment about the “toll” gravity takes on one’s body with time), Rose Nylund was the most welcoming of her “golden” years. As such, it’s no surprise that the series stated her age outright in the Season 1 episode, “Job Hunting.”

In the episode, Rose struggles with ageist employers as she searches for a job after losing her previous position at the grief counseling center. Based on her tough time in the job market, you would think she was ancient! In reality, however, Rose is only 55 years old. Far from elderly.

While consoling Rose about this very fact, Dorothy drops a top-tier Golden Girls roast.

“Sure you’re 5 years older,” Dorothy says to Rose. “So am I, so is Blanche. All right, so you have a few more wrinkles. So do I, so does Blanche. OK, so you’re a little thicker around the middle. So is Blanche.”

Blanche Devereaux’s Age: The Ultimate ‘Golden Girls’ Mystery

Blanche would, of course, be absolutely appalled that anyone was discussing her true and accurate age. So we’ve hidden it at the bottom, out of respect for the Southern belle. Blanche’s age is a frequent talking point on The Golden Girls, as she goes to great lengths to conceal it and often paints herself far younger than she actually is. Case in point:

“I used to attract men who were young and active and virile, but now they just want to date girls in their 20s and 30s,” Blanche bemoans in the Season 5 episode, “Great Expectations.” “What’s a great-looking gal in her 40s to do?”

“Perhaps we should find one and ask her,” Dorothy snipes back.

Even at her lowest moments, Blanche carefully subtracts a few years from her actual age. In the Season 2 episode, “End of the Curse,” for instance, Blanche believes she’s pregnant (but is actually going through menopause). Horrified by the ordeal, she says she’ll be 65 by the time her child graduates high school. Sophia immediately quips, “Try 70.”

If we assume Blanche’s timeline in the Season 3 episode “Mother’s Day” is accurate, we find that Sophia was correct. While recounting a childhood memory with her mother, Blanche reveals that she turned 17 in 1949. This would make Blanche 53 years old at the start of The Golden Girls.