According to Betty White, she was nervous about switching the roles because she understood Blanche, but did not get who Rose was. She said Susan Harris gave her the character in a nutshell, and from then on, she is enternally grateful to Jay Sandrich whose idea it was to switch the roles.
In Bea Arthur's one woman show, she confirms that Sophia's line in the pilot regarding Harry being a "scuzball" was originally written to say "The man is a douchebag," and that this was the only line the censors would not allow.
On the front door of Blanche's home, there is an exclamation point type looking engravement, which remains there for the rest of the series.
Meshach Taylor, who plays the policeman in this pilot episode, is better known for his long-term role as Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women which ran on CBS from 1986-1993.
Sophia looks different in the pilot episode (as well as much of Season 1) than she does in the rest of the series. She looks much older than she does in the other seasons of the show.
The series was pitched with the title, Miami Nice but was changed before the "Pilot" was filmed. The pilot script is titled The Golden Girls.
When Blanche asked if she could borrow Dorothy's mink stole, Dorothy said "it's Miami in June", that's also the night Sophia moved in because Shady Pines burned down. But in the episode Never Yell Fire Pt 1, Dorothy said Shady Pines burned down in September.
In this episode, Dorothy says that she's from Queens, but in future episodes, she and Sophia and from Brooklyn.
In this episode, Dorothy says that Stan is 65, and left her after 38 years of marriage. Dorothy became pregnant at 17 in 1948, if Stanley was 65, that would mean he would've been born in 1920. That leaves an 11-year difference between the two of them, meaning he would've been 28 when he got Dorothy pregnant. Surely back in the '40s, they had laws for someone of age having sex with someone underage.
When Sophia first comes, Blanche tells Harry that Sophia's home had burned down. But Blanche was in her bedroom when Sophia said this. So, there's no way she could have known at that time.
Dorothy: Ma, what are you doing here?
Sophia: Everything's fine, nobody died, the home burned down.
Dorothy: Let's go out and celebrate.
Sophia: What, that she came out of her room!
Blanche: Dorothy, can I borrow your mink stole?
Dorothy: It's Miami in June - only cat's are wearing fur!
Rose: Are you going out?
Dorothy: No, she's going to sit here where its 112 degrees and eat enchiladas.
Blanche: We're going to New York for the honeymoon. I just hope I don't get murdered.
Dorothy: I taught a class today, the finest school in Dade County, two girls had shaved heads, and three boys had green hair.
Coco: They're expressing themselves!
Dorothy: Well, I expressed myself. I told them they had to leave, they were too ugly to look at. Now the parents are upset, a father in a three piece suit came in and defended Tiffany, a bald girl with a nose ring.
Sophia: The fancy man and I are going to the dog tracks.
Blanche: Your mother bets?
Dorothy: No, she rides. She's a dog jockey. Let's go, girls.
(The Ladies Exit).
Sophia: (turning to Rose and Dorothy) When I go, put me in a steel sack and leave me on the curb next to the cans.
Blanche: I guess maybe I'm hoping the shock will be too much for my heart and I'll just drop dead right here. And the minister can bury me with Mr. Pinkus. I won't have to look anyone in the eye ever again.
Rose: Except maybe Mr. Pinkus.
Sophia: I heard noise. I thought it was robbers, so I hid my jewels. Now I can't remember where.
Dorothy: Ma, you don't have any jewels.
Sophia: Thank God because I can't find them.
Dorothy: (coming into Blanche's room) Blanche. Blanche. Your friend Harry wants an answer tonight. What are you going to tell him?
Blanche: I haven't decided. I guess I'll know when I hear it come out of my mouth.
Dorothy: "You'll know when it comes out of your mouth?" This isn't a belch, Blanche. This is marriage!
Blanche: (referring about Harry) He doesn't talk loud during the movies, doesn't take his own pulse and he's still interested.
Rose: In what?
Dorothy: (turning towards Rose) Rose, if you have to ask, it does not matter anymore.
Rose: Oh, what a day. One sad person after another.
Dorothy: Rose, you work at grief counseling. What do you expect, comedians?
Rose: I know he's dead. I just like talking about him in the present tense sometimes. Makes him seem closer.
Coco: That's fine Rose, you do that.
Dorothy: Sure Rose, set a place at the table.
Dorothy: (Coming back into the house) Ma, the taxi driver said you promised him a $67 tip!
Sophia: Don't be silly. I said a $6, $7 tip! Why don't these people learn English if they're gonna live here? This is Miami--I have less trouble getting around Ecuador!
Sophia: The man is a skuzball!!
Sophia: I sleep like a log. I never get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I go in the morning. Every morning like clockwork. At 7:00 AM I pee. Unfortunately, I don't wake up till 8.
Blanche: And this is Sophia.
Harry: Well, you must be Blanche's sister.
Sophia: And you must be blind.
Blanche: Sophia's home just burnt down
Harry: That's terrible
Sophia: Not to me. It was a retirement home, and you know what they did? They set off fire alarms in a retirement home. Who can rush? Half the people have walkers, the other half can't get out of their chairs, but they have bells going off like crazy. You know what that does to hearts that only beat a few times a week?! It's not pretty!
Dorothy: Oh, it is wonderful dating in Miami, all the single men under 80 are cocaine smugglers.
Sophia: (coming from the kitchen) He's an okay petunia.
Rose: Sit down, Sophia. You must be exhausted.
(Rose and Sophia sit on the couch)
Sophia: Why? I rode in the cab. I didn't push it!
Blanche: Oh, Sophia, honey! How nice to see you!
Sophia: Who are you?
Blanche: It's me, Blanche.
Sophia: You look like a prostitute!
Rose: Sophia! The things you say! She didn't mean that, Blanche.
Sophia: Of course I mean it. Look at her--my cab driver would fall in love! Can I get something to eat or is the fancy man in the kitchen?
The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Direction/Electronic Camerawork/Video Control for a Series.
Guest Meshach Taylor would later work with Estelle Getty in the movie Mannequin.
This episode was videotaped on April 22, 1985.
Viewed by 25 million viewers and ranked #1 for the week, pushing The Cosby Show to #2.
Rue McClanahan and Betty White both starred together on Mama's Family.
Beatrice Arthur and Rue McClanahan both played on Maude together.
The background shot behind the closing credits is of Dorothy, Rose and Blanche embraced in the hug.
The set for the pilot was arranged different from what it would become. If you notice, the entrance to Blanche's bedroom would become the entrance to the lanai. The table in the living room is on a curve, and the chair where Sophia sits in the Blanche & Harry scene is also on a curve. The lanai is also backwards from what it would become. The doors leading out from the lanai would be switched later.
Charles Levin (Coco) was credited as a Special Guest Star. He never appears again on the show after this episode.
The opening credits for The Golden Girls features a shot of the Miami Waterways, as well as clips of the cast members (taken from the earlier episodes). The song "Thank You for Being a Friend" is heard in the background.
For the first several episodes, Sophia's look was slightly different. Also, Rose refers to her hometown as Little Falls for the first couple of episodes before it becomes the ever-popular St. Olaf. The 'Little Falls' stories are basically same as the eventual whacky St. Olaf stories.
Originally, Rue McClanahan was cast as the naive farmer's daughter Rose Nylund and Betty White was cast as the oversexed self-centered Southern girl Blanche Devereaux. However, Bea Arthur refused to do a show where Betty was a hornier Sue Ann Nivens and Rue was another Vivian, so the roles were switched and all was set.
Additional notes on the house - In this episode,when Meshach Taylor,playing the cop informing Blanche that Harry has been arrested,is at the front door,the neighborhood is visable behind him.In subsequent episodes,there's a wall that shields this view.The layout of the house doesn't make sense,especially the kitchen/bedroom/garage combo.Dorothy and Sophia's rooms are to the right off the hallway,but that would put their respective bedrooms in the kitchen.Also, in later episodes the girls access the garage through the back door of the kitchen,but that would put the garage where Blanche's bedroom eventually (after this first episode) is located.
Rose states that she and Charlie dated for 2 years before marrying.
Rose mentions that her husband Charlie died 15 years before.
Sophia states that she is 80 years old.
Rose mentions that Blanche told her that she made a date at George's funeral. This is followed up on in a later episode when Blanche tells a story about how she slept with the minister who presided over George's funeral.
The exterior of the house was not actually used in the series. Exterior shots took place at a house in the Pacific Palisades from 1985 to 1988. The show was filmed in a studio.
This episode is sometimes simply known as "Pilot" or "The Golden Girls".
This episode is the first for the seven year series. The original pilot had more scenes with the gay housekeeper, Coco. However, his character was dropped and some scenes were re-shot that had him in it. You can tell which scenes were re-shot by watching Blanche's hairdo.
Notice Blanche's hair when she is sitting in the chair while she's telling Dorothy and Rose she has accepted Harry's proposal. Throughout most of the scene her hair is a little fuller, but when she's getting up to to her room, you can tell that part was filmed during a later time because she has gotten a haircut. During the rest ot the episode, her hair is fuller.
Rose: "Mrs. Gandhi would be alive today if she had taken my call."
This is a reference to the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was killed in 1984, the year before this episode aired.
Dorothy: "She has more colors than Benjamin Moore paints."
Dorothy was talking about Blanche's make-up collection. The reference is to the well-known paint store chain.
Blanche: "We went to Joe's."
Blanche tells the ladies that she had dinner at "Joe's" and ate stone crabs. This is a reference to Joe's Stone Crabs which is one of the most famous restaurants in Miami Beach.
Dorothy: "I can't get through to New Jersey with MCI."
Reference to MCI, one of the major phone companies during the 1980's.
Dorothy: "She wouldn't even budge for Julio Iglesias."
Dorothy talks about getting tickets for Julio Iglesias to cheer Blanche up. Iglesias was one of the most popular singers of the 1980's and even made a cameo on the fourth season episode called "Valentine's Day".