Rose Nylund

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Rose Lindström Nylund
Rose Nylund.jpg
First appearance "The Engagement"
(The Golden Girls)
September 14, 1985
Last appearance "The Chicken and the Egg"
(The Golden Palace)
May 14, 1993
Portrayed by Betty White
Occupation Grief Counselor for a Mental Health Clinic
Associate Producer for the Wakeup Miami Show
Waitress at the Fountain Rock Cafe
Volunteer at the Hospital
Family Brother Martin (biological father)
Ingrid Kerklavoner (biological mother; deceased,)
Gunter Lindström (adoptive father; deceased, age 85)
Alma Gorkleknabygen Lindström (adoptive mother)
Holly Lindström (adoptive sister)
Lily Lindström Magnusson (adoptive sister)
Michael Lindström (adoptive brother)
Six Unnamed (adoptive siblings)
Spouse(s) Charles "Charlie" Nylund, Sr.
Children Kirsten Nylund Adams
Bridget Nylund
Jenella Nylund
Adam Gabriel Nylund
Charles "Charlie" Nylund, Jr.
Relatives Charlene "Charley" Adams (granddaughter)
Aunt Gretchen (aunt; deceased)
Grandma Lindström (adoptive grandmother; deceased)
Big Sven Lindström (adoptive uncle)
Little Sven Lindström (adoptive cousin)
Arnold (cousin)
Katrina (aunt)
Ingmar (cousin)
Ricky (uncle)
Nolan (cousin)
Jake (uncle; deceased)
Uncle Johannsen
Uncle Lester
Uncle Ben
Uncle Hertis
Uncle Gustaf
Uncle Gunther
Uncle Hingeblotter
Great Half-Uncle Sven
Olga Nolström (cousin-in-law)
Aunt Lib
Aunt Gretchen
Uncle Gustav
Uncle Inkeblotter
Cousin Dat
Cousin Enoch
Cousin Milo
Cousin Nolan
Astrid (cousin)
Great Grandpa Ziggy
Dennis Lindström (adoptive cousin)
Religion Lutheran

Rose Nylund (née Lindström) is a fictional character featured on the popular 1980s situation comedy The Golden Girls, and its spin-off The Golden Palace. She was portrayed by Betty White for 8 years, totaling 208 episodes. Rose was originally supposed to be played by Rue McClanahan, whereas Blanche Devereaux, one of Rose's roommates, was to be played by White. However, Jay Sandrich, the director of the show, suggested that Betty and Rue switch parts. He felt that Betty would be a better fit for Rose because she had already played Sue Ann Nivens in the television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is similar to the character of Blanche Devereaux.[1] In a January 2017 interview with Katie Couric, White stated she jumped at the opportunity to take the role of Rose, noting she loved the character and describing Rose as "so innocent, not the brightest nickel in the drawer, but funny."[2]

Rose Nylund was built on Scandinavian dialect comedy and stereotypes: a good-natured but often naive and dumb character not unlike the humor of William F. Kirk.

Fictional biography[edit]

Rose was born in St. Olaf, Minnesota to a monk named Brother Martin and a 19-year-old girl named Ingrid Kerklavoner, who died giving birth to Rose. Brother Martin claimed to have not known about Rose's existence until after she had been given up for adoption. During that same episode, Rose explains that she was adopted by the Lindströms at an early age after she was left on a doorstep in a basket with some hickory-smoked cheese and some crackers "that didn't go with anything". It was stated that she was valedictorian in her high school graduation, fourth out of nineteen, and was chosen valedictorian because she drew the longest straw. It is also stated that Rose attended St. Paul Business School, Rockport Community College, and St. Gustaf University, but also that she had never graduated from high school due to a case of mono. Nevertheless, she was voted "most likely to get stuck in a tuba" by one of her graduating classes. Her parents did not allow her to date until she was a high school senior, and between then and her wedding day, she had fifty-six boyfriends. Rose fell in love with Charlie Nylund, a salesman, and they later married. Rose met Charlie when she was seven and he was eight, and he sold her an insurance policy on her red wagon. She and Charlie had a long and happy marriage, and a very active sex life, to the extent that she was unaware of the existence of a popular television show titled I Love Lucy. Over the course of the series, Rose names five children: Brigit, Jenella, Kirsten, Adam, and Charlie Jr. Rose also had two granddaughters by Kirsten - Charley (named for Kirsten's father) and another unnamed, mentioned in the episode where Rose had her heart attack. Of her children, only Brigit and Kirsten appeared on the show, although Kirsten was played by two different actresses.

Charlie died of a heart attack while he and Rose were making love and this gave Rose a fear of sexual intimacy for several years thereafter. Years later, another boyfriend of Rose's died in a similar fashion. Charlie and Rose's marriage length is unclear. Although it was mentioned in the 1985 pilot episode that Charlie had been dead for 15 years, in the first-season episode "Job Hunting", Rose says that she had been a housewife for 32 years when Charlie died in 1980. In the same episode, Rose is 55 years old in 1985, which would put her birth year in 1930. This would make her 55 when the series begins and 62 when The Golden Palace goes off the air in 1993.

Charlie is the only spouse of the four women on The Golden Girls that the audience never sees. In an episode of The Golden Palace, a man said to bear an incredibly strong resemblance to Charlie makes an appearance, in which the look-alike is played by Eddie Albert.

Rose was laid off from her job at the grief counseling center in season 1, and briefly worked as a waitress at the Fountain Roc Coffee Shop before being rehired at the counseling center shortly after. Later on in the series, Rose suffers financial difficulties when her late husband's employer files for bankruptcy and her pension is cut off. She suffers from age discrimination in her attempts to get a new job, but her luck changes when she gets a position as assistant to TV consumer reporter Enrique Más. Rose finally finds a significant romance with college professor Miles Webber, though their relationship is put through a serious strain when it is revealed that Miles is actually a former mobster accountant named Nicholas Carbone, and a participant in the witness protection program. His former employer, "The Cheese Man," begins dating Rose in order to get information on Miles's whereabouts. Eventually The Cheese Man is apprehended, Rose and Miles resume their lives together, and all goes well for approximately the next year. In season 7, Rose and Miles consider marriage, but ultimately decide against rushing into anything. Their relationship later ends permanently during an episode of The Golden Palace when Rose discovers that Miles loves and subsequently marries another woman.

St. Olaf[edit]

Rose frequently tells the other women various stories of her hometown, St. Olaf, which they find to be annoying. Rose usually begins each story with, "Back in St. Olaf..." According to Rose, St. Olaf is a Norwegian farming settlement in northern Minnesota, known on local license plates as "Big Statue Country". During the show's seven-year run, St. Olaf was only seen twice in flashbacks,[citation needed] and once when the ladies visited during an episode in which Rose was nominated for St. Olaf's Woman of the Year award.[3]

One of St. Olaf's chief attractions is a giant black hole, which the townspeople enjoyed standing around and looking at - which prompted Dorothy to refer to St. Olaf sarcastically as the real "entertainment capital of the world." St. Olafians also celebrate various oddly themed festivals. St. Olaf appears to be a bilingual town with a significant amount of unique vocabulary (that may be specific to the area and not appearing in standard Norwegian).[citation needed] One of the unique attractions of St. Olaf is Mt. Losenbauden, similar to Mount Rushmore, except that it features the faces of losing presidential candidates; Adlai Stevenson is featured twice because he lost twice.[3]

It is suggested by Rose's stories that St. Olaf is populated almost entirely by idiots. In the season three episode, "Mother's Day", Rose encounters a traveling woman named Anna, who says about St. Olaf, "I don't mean to say that everyone there is an idiot, but it just seemed that, per capita, they have more than their share." When Rose says that her children realized it would be cheaper for her to visit the family than it would for the family to visit her, Anna happily replies, "They figured that out, and they live in St. Olaf? You must be very proud!"[4]


Although all four women volunteered their time, Rose was arguably the most involved in charity work. She drove a bookmobile, was a candy striper at a hospital, and helped organize a charity talent show, among other things. She listed cheese making, stamp collecting and Viking history as hobbies on her resume, as well. She also volunteered as a girl scout troop leader. Rose was a perennial runner up for a Volunteer of the Year award, even coming in second one-year to a woman who was already dead.


Rose is simple minded and something of a pushover who rarely stands up for herself. On one occasion her blind sister Lily tried to guilt Rose into moving to Chicago to take care of her. At Dorothy's urging, Rose said no to Lily which forced her (Lily) to learn how to care for herself. In The Golden Palace, Rose has a much more resilient will and becomes a much stronger personality after Dorothy's departure from the group (as Dorothy notes during her lone appearance on The Golden Palace—"Seems Like Old Times"—when she states "When did she become the strong one?!").

Dorothy and Rose often clashed on-air, with Rose being generally upbeat and Dorothy reflecting a more terse, down-to-earth worldview. This reflected real-life tension between Bea Arthur and Betty White, who had similar personalities to their characters in real life.[5]

Though portrayed as dimwitted, the show implies Rose is actually bilingual in English and Norwegian, as she often cites odd festivals, locales, customs, and food in the latter. In the episode in which her cousin Sven visits, her bilingualism is again hinted at when she explained how she had to converse with her furious Viking uncle on the phone.

Running gag[edit]

Rose is the fool of the group, and has been the center of a few running gags. The most common running gag involves her asking a stupid question, after which the other women would usually look at her oddly, and then say something sarcastic. Another running gag involves Dorothy or Blanche hitting Rose with a newspaper after enduring one of her annoying St. Olaf stories. Rose herself behaves uncharacteristically sarcastic in a few instances. In one episode in which the ladies' roof was leaking, Rose exits her room carrying two buckets of water; Dorothy asks if the ceiling in her room is leaking too, and Rose replies, "No, Dorothy, I just finished milking the cow I keep in my closet!" She then says, "Gee, with only three hours of sleep I can be as bitchy as you!". On another episode, Rose says her sister Holly is a flautist. Dorothy asks Rose if Holly plays a flute, and Rose sarcastically replies, "No, Dorothy, she plays a 'flaut'. It's a big instrument that looks like a tuba, and has hair at the bottom of it. Of course she plays a flute!". In one episode where Dorothy and Blanche had gotten into an argument, neither of them cares that the dog that Rose takes in off the street is sick and needs immediate veterinary care; after their argument, both Dorothy and Blanche leave the kitchen. Rose then imitates the dog as if he were speaking to her: "Don't explain, Rose. I used to live with a couple of bitches myself."

Rose's hair color is something debated from time to time. She claims it is her natural color, but several characters have said it was cheap hair dye. In one episode, Rose claims that she never lies, but abruptly leaves the room when Dorothy asks what her natural hair color is. In another episode, Sophia remarks that Rose is known as a dumb blonde. In another episode while Blanche was discussing her hair's "natural hue", Rose had mentioned, "To be perfectly honest, I use a touch of peroxide". Rose's confession was irrelevant to the conversation and was immediately followed by an irritated Dorothy who shouted, "Oh, shut up, Rose!"

Health issues[edit]

Rose suffered a number of major health problems during the series. In season 2, she had an esophageal spasm that caused a near-death experience. In season 4, Rose came clean about a decades-long addiction to prescription painkillers. Rose also endured an HIV scare in season 5, when she was alerted that a blood transfusion she had received during a cholecystectomy six years before may have been tainted with the virus. In season 7, Rose suffered a major heart attack and had to have a triple bypass surgery.

Additional appearances[edit]

Outside The Golden Girls, Rose appears on three episodes of Empty Nest - "Strange Bedfellows", "Rambo of Neiman Marcus" and "Dr. Weston and Mr. Hyde". She also appears on the Nurses episode "Begone with the Wind".


  1. ^ White, Betty (1995). Here we go again : my life in television. A Lisa Drew book. New York: Scribner Books. ISBN 0-684-80042-X. OCLC 32132388. 
  2. ^ Couric, Katie (January 17, 2017). Betty White on her 95th birthday. Yahoo! News. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Yokel Hero". The Golden Girls. Season 4. Episode 4. November 5, 1988. 
  4. ^ "Mother's Day". The Golden Girls. Season 3. Episode 25. May 7, 1988. 
  5. ^ "Bea Vs. Betty". Perez Hilton. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 

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