10 oldest Emmy winners of Best Comedy Actress

“The Golden Girls,” which premiered on NBC in the fall of 1985, was initially presented as a sitcom about three women in their mid-50s and one in her early 80s sharing a house in Miami, Florida. However, most of the cast members’ real life ages did not align with those of their characters. Estelle Getty, who played eldest housemate Sophia, was really only 62 when the show first aired, while two of the quinquagenarian characters were played by 63-year-old actresses Bea Arthur and Betty White. Indeed, the only member of the main quartet who was truly age appropriate was 51-year-old Rue McClanahan.

Each of the four “Golden Girls” actresses took home a single Emmy for their work on the show. McClanahan earned hers in 1987 for a second season episode called “End of the Curse” in which her character, Blanche Devereaux, begins menopause. At 53, she was the sixth oldest winner in the history of the Best Comedy Actress category. 35 years later, she now places 10th on the same list.

Since 1954, a total of 37 actresses have won Emmys for their lead roles on continuing comedy programs, beginning with Eve Arden (“Our Miss Brooks”). A dozen of the winners have bagged two or more trophies.

Check out our photo gallery to find out who ranks ahead of McClanahan on the list of 10 oldest Best Comedy Actress Emmy winners. This list also factors in winners of the now-retired variety performance awards, since regular cast members on continuing variety series now compete here.