She was 34 when she debuted on Broadway opposite Dustin Hoffman in the musical Jimmy Shine. (Judging by this risque shot, it appears that her role presaged the sexually adventurous part she'd later become known for.)
She'll be remembered, primarily, for her deft and witty portrayal of Blanche Devereaux, the egotistical, man-eating Golden Girl. But Rue McClanahan's career spanned decades, from her start in New York City's off-Broadway theaters (she worked as a part-time file clerk to pay the bills), to her numerous guest star stints on everything from Fantasy Island to Law and Order. Click through to see the Oklahoma native's evolutionspoiler alert: she favored short hair that showed off her high cheekbones throughoutfrom theater actress to television grand dame.