There have been many Golden Ages of Television and fans of programming from the 1980s would maintain that the “me decade” is certainly one of them as it provided endless hours of entertainment thanks to the following funny ladies.
Top 10 Funny Ladies
Not only were they incredibly talented, but they often showed on-target comic timing that would have us laughing out loud, whether it was during primetime — or in some cases — not ready for primetime moments. Read on and then let us know what you think in the comments section below.
10. Jan Hooks (Saturday Night Live)
She played on SNL for several years starting in 1986, bringing to life a variety of original characters, but most of all she’s remembered for her spot-on impersonations of stars and notables including Bette Davis, Jessica Hahn, Tammy Faye Baker, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Nancy Reagan.
9. Jean Smart (Designing Women)
Smart played the naïve Charlene Frazier on Designing Women. Her childlike view of the world led to some hilarious interpretations. When she was told that her pal Monette (Bobbie Ferguson) was in the “world’s oldest profession,” Charlene marveled, “Monette’s a carpenter?”
8. Shelley Long (Cheers)
The Boston bar was never the same after Long handed in Diane Chambers’ waitress apron and left Beantown. Diane’s book smarts and upper-crust demeanor contrasted against the blue-collar Carla (Rhea Perlman), creating witty banter between the two. Diane’s romance with Sam (Ted Danson), a former Red Sox player, was legendary. After Sam told Diane that he’d never met an intelligent woman he’d ever want to date, Diane replied: “On behalf of all the intelligent women in America, may I just say: ‘whew.’”
7. Suzanne Sugarbaker (Designing Women)
Delta Burke played Suzanne, a former Miss Georgia, who had no filter when it came to saying exactly how she felt about things. After the actress put on a few pounds (as everyone does!), the show’s writers put it into a script. Burke received a primetime Emmy nomination for her performance in the episode titled, “They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?”
6. Rosanne Barr (Rosanne)
Stand-up comedienne Rosanne Barr came to television as Rosanne Connor. Fans warmed to the realness of the Conner clan as Rosanne and her husband Dan (John Goodman) raised their kids when money was tight and there was no internet. In the show’s recent revival, Rosanne passed away but her family lives on telling stories on The Conners.
5. Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life)
You know you’re funny when you’re spun off into your own series. That’s what happened when Rae’s Edna Garrett of Diff’rent Strokes got her own show — The Facts of Life. When Tootie (Kim Fields), Natalie (Mindy Cohn), Blair (Lisa Whelchel), and Jo (Nancy McKeon) would get out of line, Edna, who acted as a surrogate mother, would rein them in by crying out: “Girls! Girls! GIRLS!”
4. Rue McClanahan (Golden Girls)
Joining Golden Girls reunited McClanahan was Maude star Bea Arthur where she played Maude’s often naïve pal Vivian Harmon. This time, McClanahan got to sink her teeth into vain, man-hungry Blanche. When Blanche announced that she treated her body like a temple, Sophia (Estelle Getty) shot back: “Yeah, open to everyone, day or night.”
3. Dixie Carter (Designing Women)
The CBS sitcom provided lots of laughs for viewers, but fans would have tuned in even if all the show had were those eloquent, grandiose, passionate speeches delivered by Carter’s liberal Julia Sugarbaker. Often, Julia didn’t need a long speech to make her point, like the time she aimed her sharp tongue at her sister: “Suzanne, if sex were fast food, there’d be an arch over your bed!”
2. Bea Arthur (Golden Girls)
Thankfully, Arthur brought the same deadpan looks she gave for years as Maude to her character Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls. Every time, Rose Nylund (Betty White) would prattle on about something that happened “Back in St. Olaf,” viewers couldn’t wait to see Dorothy erupt in frustration. After Rose asked Dorothy if she could ask a dumb question, Dorothy shot back: “Better than anyone I know.”
1. Betty White (Golden Girls)
White didn’t want to play another man-hungry woman after her stint as, well, man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, so, she opted to take on the role of naïve Rose Nylund, one of the many funny ladies of Golden Girls. She brought the character to life with endearing charm not in spite of her innocent take on life, but often because of it. Her stories didn’t always make sense, but they did to Rose like the time she said: “Like we say in St. Olaf, Christmas without fruitcake is like St. Sigmund’s Day without the headless boy.”