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Rose Nylund (née Lindström) is a fictional character featured on the popular 1980s situation comedy The Golden Girls, and its spin-off The Golden Palace. She was portrayed by Betty White for 8 years, totaling 204 episodes. Rose was originally supposed to be played by Rue McClanahan, whereas Blanche Devereaux, one of Rose's roommates, was to be played by White. However, Jay Sandrich, the director of the show, suggested that Betty and Rue switch parts. He felt that Betty would be a better fit for Rose because she had already played Sue Ann Nivens in the television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is similar to the character of Blanche Devereaux. In a January 2017 interview with Katie Couric, White stated she jumped at the opportunity to take the role of Rose, noting she loved the character and describing Rose as "so innocent, not the brightest nickel in the drawer, but funny."
|First appearance||"The Engagement" |
(The Golden Girls)
September 14, 1985
|Last appearance||"The Chicken and the Egg"|
(The Golden Palace)
May 14, 1993
|Portrayed by||Betty White|
|Occupation||Grief counselor for a mental health clinic|
Associate producer for the Wakeup Miami Show
Waitress at the Fountain Rock Coffee Shop
Volunteer at a hospital
|Family||Brother Martin (biological father) |
Ingrid Kerklavoner (biological mother; deceased,)
Gunter Lindström (adoptive father; deceased, age 85)
Alma Gorkleknabygen Lindström (adoptive mother)
Holly Lindström (adoptive sister)
Lily Lindström Magnusson (adoptive sister)
Michael Lindström (adoptive brother)
Six unnamed (adoptive siblings)
|Spouse||Charles "Charlie" Nylund, Sr. (widowed) died in 1980|
|Children||Kirsten Nylund Adams |
Adam Gabriel Nylund
Charles "Charlie" Nylund, Jr.
|Relatives||Charlene "Charley" Adams (granddaughter)|
Aunt Gretchen (aunt; deceased)
Grandma Lindström (adoptive grandmother; deceased)
Big Sven Lindström (adoptive uncle)
Little Sven Lindström (adoptive cousin)
Jake (uncle; deceased)
Great Half-Uncle Sven
Olga Nolström (cousin-in-law)
Great Grandpa Ziggy
Dennis Lindström (adoptive cousin)
Vigdov Frickin (adoptive cousin)
Rose was born in St. Olaf, Minnesota to a monk named Brother Martin and a 19-year-old girl named Ingrid Kerklavoner, who died giving birth. Brother Martin claimed to have not known about Rose's existence until after she had been given up for adoption. She spent the first eight years of her life at the St. Olaf Orphanage before being adopted by Gunter and Alma Lindström (although she erroneously says "Gunter and Alma Nylund" when retelling the story). Rose explains that she was adopted after she was left on a doorstep, in a basket with some hickory-smoked cheese and some crackers "that didn't go with anything". She used to daydream about her birth father, feeling that Bob Hope was in fact he, and she wrote the comedian many letters whenever she fell on tough times.
It is stated that she was valedictorian in her high school graduation, fourth out of nineteen, and was chosen valedictorian because she drew the longest straw. It is revealed that Rose attended St. Paul Business School, Rockport Community College, and St. Gustaf University, but also that she had never graduated from high school due to a case of mono. Nevertheless, she was voted "most likely to get stuck in a tuba" by one of her graduating classes. Her parents did not allow her to date until she was a high school senior, and between then and her wedding day, she had fifty-six boyfriends. Rose fell in love with Charlie Nylund, a salesman, and they later married. Rose met Charlie when she was seven and he was eight, and he sold her an insurance policy for her red wagon. She and Charlie had a long and happy marriage, and a very active sex life, to the extent that she was unaware of the existence of a popular television show called I Love Lucy. Over the course of the series, Rose names five children: Brigit, Jenella, Kirsten, Adam, and Charlie Jr. Rose also has two granddaughters by Kirsten - Charley (named for Kirsten's father) and another unnamed, mentioned in the episode where Rose had her heart attack. Of her children, only Brigit and Kirsten appeared on the show, although Kirsten was played by two different actresses.
Charlie died of a heart attack while he and Rose were making love in 1980 and this gave Rose a fear of sexual intimacy for several years thereafter. Years later, a boyfriend named Al Beatty (Richard Roat) dies in a similar fashion. On one episode Rose confides to Blanche and Dorothy that she and Charlie made love twice, everyday, once in the morning before breakfast and then once after dinner, getting Blanche to remark "No wonder you still mourn that man".
Charlie and Rose's marriage length is unclear. Although it was mentioned in the 1985 pilot episode that Charlie had been dead for 15 years, in the first-season episode "Job Hunting", Rose says that she had been a housewife for 32 years when Charlie died in 1980. In the same episode, Rose is 55 years old in 1985, which would put her birth year in 1930. This would make her 63 when The Golden Palace goes off the air in 1993.
Charlie is the only spouse of the four women on The Golden Girls that the audience never sees. In an episode of The Golden Palace, a man said to bear an incredibly strong resemblance to Charlie makes an appearance; the look-alike is played by Eddie Albert.
Rose is laid off from her job at the grief counseling center in season 1, and briefly works as a waitress at the Fountain Roc Coffee Shop before being rehired at the counseling center shortly after. Later on in the series, Rose suffers financial difficulties when her late husband's employer files for bankruptcy and her pension is cut off. She suffers from age discrimination in her attempts to get a new job, but her luck changes when she gets a position as assistant to TV consumer reporter Enrique Más. Rose finally finds a significant romance with college professor Miles Webber, though their relationship is put through a serious strain when it is revealed that Miles is actually a former mobster accountant named Nicholas Carbone, and a participant in the witness protection program. His former employer, "The Cheese Man," begins dating Rose in order to get information on Miles's whereabouts. Eventually The Cheese Man is apprehended, Rose and Miles resume their lives together, and all goes well for approximately the next year. In season 7, Rose and Miles consider marriage, but ultimately decide against rushing into anything. Their relationship later ends permanently during an episode of The Golden Palace when Rose discovers that Miles loves and subsequently marries another woman.
Rose frequently tells the other women various stories, which they find to be annoying, of her hometown, St. Olaf. Rose usually begins each story with, "Back in St. Olaf..." According to her, St. Olaf is a Norwegian farming settlement in northern Minnesota, known on local license plates as "Big Statue Country". During the show's seven-year run, St. Olaf is seen only twice in flashbacks, and once when the ladies visit during an episode in which Rose was nominated for St. Olaf's Woman of the Year award.
One of St. Olaf's chief attractions is a giant black hole, which the townspeople enjoy standing around and looking at - which prompts Dorothy to refer to St. Olaf sarcastically as the real "entertainment capital of the world." St. Olafians also celebrate various oddly themed festivals. St. Olaf appears to be a bilingual town with a significant amount of unique vocabulary (that may be specific to the area and not appearing in standard Norwegian). One of the unique attractions of St. Olaf is Mt. Losenbauden, similar to Mount Rushmore, except that it features the faces of losing presidential candidates; Adlai Stevenson is featured twice because he lost twice.
It is suggested by Rose's stories that St. Olaf is populated almost entirely by idiots. In the season three episode, "Mother's Day", Rose encounters a traveling woman named Anna, who says about St. Olaf, "I don't mean to say that everyone there is an idiot, but it just seemed that, per capita, they have more than their share." When Rose says that her children realized it would be cheaper for her to visit the family than it would for the family to visit her, Anna happily replies, "They figured that out, and they live in St. Olaf? You must be very proud!"
Although all four women volunteer their time, Rose is arguably the most involved in charity work. Among other things, she drives a bookmobile, is a candy striper at a hospital, and helps organize a charity talent show. On her resume, she lists cheese making, stamp collecting and Viking history as hobbies. She also volunteers as a girl scout troop leader. Rose is a perennial runner up for a Volunteer of the Year award, even coming in second one-year to a woman who is dead.
Rose also enjoys painting and even got recognized in an episode to have her artwork of St.Olaf ‘s horses in a museum. She always enjoyed art and painting but began to get stressed when the museum work had asked too much of her.
In many episodes, it is hinted that Rose is a fan of science fiction movies and TV shows. (In the 1987 episode "Bringing Up Baby," the other women are reading Benjamin Spock's book on child rearing. Rose quips, "What does Spock know about raising babies? On Vulcan, all the kids are born in pods." To which Dorothy replies, "I know this is a bit of a stretch, but did you take much acid during the '60s?").
Rose is simple minded and something of a pushover who rarely stands up for herself. On one occasion, her blind sister Lily tries to guilt Rose into moving to Chicago to take care of her. At Dorothy's urging, Rose says no, which forces Lily to learn how to care for herself. In The Golden Palace, Rose has a much more resilient will and becomes a much stronger personality after Dorothy's departure from the group (as Dorothy notes during her lone appearance on The Golden Palace—"Seems Like Old Times"—when she states "When did she become the strong one?!"). Despite this, Rose is often portrayed as being quite competitive, particularly in various games she engages in with the group. At one point, Rose dabbles as a junior football coach and is shown to encourage the players to do anything possible to win, including lying and cheating.
Dorothy and Rose often clash on-air, with Rose being generally upbeat and Dorothy reflecting a more terse, down-to-earth worldview. This reflected real-life tension between Bea Arthur and Betty White, who had similar personalities to their characters in real life.
Though portrayed as dimwitted, the show implies Rose is actually bilingual as she often cites odd festivals, locales, customs, and food in Norwegian. In the episode in which her cousin Sven visits, her ability in both English and Norwegian is again hinted at when she explains how she had to converse with her furious Viking uncle on the phone.
Rose is the fool of the group, and is the center of a few running gags. The most common involves her asking a stupid question, after which the other women usually look at her oddly, and then say something sarcastic. Another involves Dorothy or Blanche hitting Rose with a newspaper after enduring one of her frustrating St. Olaf stories. Rose herself behaves uncharacteristically sarcastic in a few instances. In one episode in which the ladies' roof was leaking, Rose exits her room carrying two buckets of water; Dorothy asks if the ceiling in her room is leaking too, and Rose replies, "No, Dorothy, I just finished milking the cow I keep in my closet!" She then says, "Gee, with only three hours of sleep I can be as bitchy as you!". In another episode, Rose says her sister Holly is a flautist. Dorothy asks Rose if Holly plays a flute, and Rose sarcastically replies, "No, Dorothy, she plays a 'flaut'. It's a big instrument that looks like a tuba, and has hair at the bottom of it. Of course she plays a flute!". In a situation where Dorothy and Blanche have gotten into an argument, neither of them cares that the dog that Rose takes in off the street is sick and needs immediate veterinary care; after their argument, both Dorothy and Blanche leave the kitchen. Rose then imitates the dog as if he were speaking to her: "Don't explain, Rose. I used to live with a couple of bitches myself."
Rose's hair color is debated from time to time. She claims it is her natural color, but several characters comment that it is a result of cheap hair dye. In one episode, Rose claims that she never lies, but abruptly leaves the room when Dorothy asks what her natural hair color is. On another occasion, Sophia remarks that Rose is known as a dumb blonde. Another time, while Blanche is discussing her hair's "natural hue", Rose says, "To be perfectly honest, I use a touch of peroxide." Rose's confession is irrelevant to the conversation and is immediately followed by an irritated Dorothy shouting, "Oh, shut up, Rose!"
Rose suffered a number of major health problems during the series. In season 2, she had an esophageal spasm that caused a near-death experience. In season 4, Rose came clean about a 30 year long addiction to prescription painkillers. Rose also endured an HIV scare in season 5, when she was alerted that a blood transfusion she had received during a cholecystectomy six years before may have been tainted with the virus. In season 7, Rose suffered a major heart attack and had to have a triple bypass surgery.
Outside The Golden Girls, Rose appears on three episodes of Empty Nest - "Strange Bedfellows", "Rambo of Neiman Marcus" and "Dr. Weston and Mr. Hyde". She also appears on the Nurses episode "Begone with the Wind".
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- "Yokel Hero". The Golden Girls. Season 4. Episode 4. November 5, 1988.
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