Rue McClanahan, “The Golden Girls'” Blanche, Dies

Oh no — Not Blanche!! Heaven has taken another of our beloved Golden Girls!

Rue McClanahan — who shared her acting talents with fans of TV hits like Maude and Mama’s Family before taking on the role of aging Southern vamp Blanche Devereaux on NBC’s The Golden Girls from 1985 to 1992 — has died.

She was 76.

(*Sniffles*) Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in a slice of cheesecakse….

The beloved star — who worked actively from the 1960s up until an illness late last year — passed away Thursday morning following a massive stroke on Monday. It had been the latest in a string of health struggles for McClanahan: Last November, the TV legend underwent triple bypass surgery only to be hit with a minor stroke in January.

She also underwent treatment for breast cancer in 1997 and later lectured to cancer support groups on “aging gracefully.”

“Rue passed away at 1 a.m. this morning,” her longtime rep Barbara Lawrence somberly confirmed to PEOPLE this morning. “She had a stroke on Monday, she was still in the hospital where she had been for quite some time. Last week, she told her long time publicist she was ready to go back to work. She was doing great. She didn’t feel well on Monday.”

Rue, a six-time divorcee, is survived by her son, Mark Bish.

Rue’s death follows the passing of two her of former Golden Girls co-stars, Bea Arthur in 2009 and Estelle Getty in 2008. Betty White, now 88, is the last surviving member of the quartet. Now I want to go home and watch Season 2 of The Golden Girls on DVD — in Rue’s honor, of course. So long, Blanche. Thank you for being a friend.

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