Hired to film the pilot, director Jay Sandrich also became instrumental in helping to cast the roles of Blanche Devereaux and Rose Nylund. Both Rue McClanahan and Betty White came into consideration as the series Mama’s Family, in which the two co-starred, had been sang by NBC. Originally, producer wanted to cast McClanahan as Rose and White as Blanche. The thinking for this was based on roles they previously played; White portrayed man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, while McClanahan co-starred as sweet but scatterbrained Vivian Harmon in Maude. Eager not to be typecast, they took the suggestion of Sandrich and switched roles at the last minute.
See more at: Golden Girls Be strong be brave be humble poster