Actress Rue McClanahan passed away on Thursday, June 3 at 1:00 am after suffering a stroke and brain hemorrhage at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She was 76.

McClanahan found her start on the Broadway stage, making her debut in the John Sebastian and Murray Schisgal musical Jimmy Shine. She later briefly starred in soap operas Another World and Where the Heart Is. However, it was her role as the outspoken and sexually savvy Blanche Deveraux on TV’s The Golden Girls in the late eighties/early nineties that tickled the funny bone of fans the world over, winning viewers over with her Southern charms and “dripping with honey” persona that have left an indelible impression and will continue to do so, likely for generations to come.

McClanahan later went on to have a role in the film The Fighting Temptations, and later returned to the stage in the Broadway musical Wicked. She went on to write the memoir My First Five Husbands… And the Ones Who Got Away, a witty self-expose that has been said to read like a chance meeting with Blanche Deveraux herself. Of course, to those who “know” or “knew” her from her onscreen personality, Rue McClanahan was and still is considered to be a legendary presence in pop culture. To many she will be remembered as a feisty sparkplug who – even in her golden years – could not be tamed. Seemingly knowing the power of her celebrity, McClanahan used hers to benefit others, bringing to light the reality of a number of social, moral and ethical issues, including but not limited to gay rights and animal rights. A page has been constructed by her family on social network Facebook in which her requests are expressed:

In lieu of flowers, Rue’s request was for donations to be made in her memory to the follow charities:

  • Northeast Animal Shelter, Inc.
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  • Alley Animals, Inc.
  • Farm Sanctuary, Inc.
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Sierra Club Foundation
  • Greenpeace International
  • Actors and Others for Animals
  • Defenders of Wildlife, Inc.
  • Animals Legal Defense Fund
  • Last Chance for Animals

Fans, friends, and family can share their thoughts, memories, and condolences at the official memorial page here.