Pop Culture

OKPOP Museum Announces New Collection from Iconic Actor and Oklahoma Native Rue McClanahan

The Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) is pleased to announce it has acquired artifacts from iconic actress and Oklahoma native, Rue McClanahan. The collection includes an exclusive life history interview with her sister, Dr. Melinda McClanahan, photos from their childhood, and a silky emerald-green dressing gown worn by McClanahan’s character Blanche Devereaux on the hit TV series, “The Golden Girls.” This collection will be part of OKPOP Museum’s “Imagined Worlds” experience that celebrates the lives and careers of Oklahomans in film, literature, visual arts, and performing arts.


Rue McClanahan was born on February 21, 1934, in Ardmore, Oklahoma and eventually found her way to the University of Tulsa before shoving off to the big lights of New York City to pursue acting. McClanahan was an established stage performer on Broadway before being tapped for small roles in TV shows like “Maude” and “Mama’s Family.” But it was her role as the saucy southern belle Blanche from “The Golden Girls” that would not only win her an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1987) but would also cement her pop culture legacy.

“Let me tell you, she worked hard, and she paid her dues before she became the great and glorious actress that she was,” said McClanahan’s sister, Dr. Melinda McClanahan. “We were just two little kids from Southern Oklahoma. We were middle class—actually, lower-middle class during the Depression. And yet, she did it.”

Rue McClanahan’s career spanned over five decades until she passed away in June of 2010 at the age o

f 76. Her contributions to stage and screen have left a lasting impact on audiences. The OKPOP Museum is honored to share Rue McClanahan’s story with the public and to celebrate her legacy as an actor and Oklahoma native. The exclusive interview with Dr. Melinda McClanahan offers a unique perspective on Rue’s life and career, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the woman behind the characters she portrayed.

This acquisition was made possible by Dr. Melinda McClanahan and the OKPOP Foundation, OKPOP’s nonprofit fundraising group whose mission is to support the efforts of the OKPOP Museum to collect, preserve, and share Oklahoma’s pop culture history.