How to Earn Money Fast… With Help from The Golden Girls
Dorothy: Ma, I cannot believe it. All these years you've been hoarding away all this money!
Sophia: Dorothy, please. That money is for my old age.
Dorothy: OLD AGE? Ma, you don't leave fingerprints anymore!
Let Them Eat Cheesecake
Whatever happened to good ol' American retirement? Lately, factors such as longer life expectancies, sickening health care costs and falling property values are combining to foil millions of people’s retirement plans. Creating extra sources of income is more appealing than ever.
The Golden Girls live in another time and place: 1985 to 1992 in the NBC universe. Still, they're no strangers to scrambling for cash through extra work, contests and the occasional scam.
Here I briefly introduce each Golden Girl and her financial situation. Then I share some of Sophia Petrillo's moneymaking scams involving bottled garden hose water, a prizefighter and potato sandwiches. I conclude with video of the foursome's more laudable efforts to amass extra funds.
Picture It: Miami, 1985
A common need for affordable housing leads "the girls" to become companions. Here's a brief overview of their economic situations as The Golden Girls begins:
- Blanche Devereaux advertises rooms for rent to help maintain her lifestyle. Although she has a privileged background, she says that she never had a head for investments. She is widowed and works as a personal assistant at the Miami Art Museum.
- Dorothy Zbornak has been abandoned by Stan, an unsuccessful novelty salesman, after 38 years of marriage. Did Stanley have a head for numbers? No, says Dorothy. "The man had to get naked to count to 21." Dorothy works as a substitute teacher in Miami high schools.
- Rose Nylund is a recent widow. Her beloved Charlie had managed money poorly. Rose works as a grief counselor.
- Sophia Petrillo, who is Dorothy's mother, joins the household when a fire at the Shady Pines Retirement Home leaves her homeless. She counts on Social Security income, Medicare, and money from her children.
Together the women maintain a relatively secure lifestyle over the next seven years. They have a lovely home, good health, a stocked refrigerator, and up-to-date career clothing complete with 1980s shoulderpads. Still, on plenty of occasions the Golden Girls want or need an extra pile of cash.
Sophia's Bottled Water Business Pitch
"Move over Perrier, Petrillo water is on the way! I know what you’re going to say: This is another of my get-rich-quick schemes. Well this one’s different. I’ve been working on this since noon! You can’t lose. It’s a rip-off, pure and simple!"
Sophia's Moneymaking Schemes
Sophia Petrillo is the queen of moneymaking ideas -- and she isn't above dirty business practices. Credit her mafia family history:
Sophia: Dorothy, you threw a priest out of the house! You disgust me.
Dorothy: Ma, you have relatives who've thrown priests out of windows!
Sophia: That was business.
Sophia attempted serious health insurance fraud with Stan Zbornak. She also proposed selling bottled garden hose water to tourists. Usually though, her moneymaking ideas leave her less vulnerable to a jury trial. Here are some fun memories of Sophia's endeavors.
The Sandwich Shop
In Season 2 of The Golden Girls , Sophia recruits Rose to sell bacon, lettuce and potato sandwiches at a construction site. Bacon, lettuce and potato? She instructs Rose to "peddle the slop" by saying the sandwich name very quickly. She demonstrates: "Baconlettucepotato. Baconlettucepotato."
However, Sophia isn't the only lunch vendor at the construction site. A gentleman known as Johnny No-Thumbs sells pastrami sandwiches. Rose and Sophia leave home before sunrise to claim his territory. Dorothy dislikes this idea.
Dorothy: Ma, you are trying to muscle in on a guy named Johnny No-Thumbs? He's probably connected with the mob!
Sophia: Relax. If they liked him, he'd still have his thumbs.
When Johnny No-Thumbs sends his agents to threaten Sophia, she responds Sicilian-style: She addresses a letter to Johnny No-Knees. Johnny has a sudden change of heart and wishes the women well.
Even so, Sophia abandons her sandwich business because she isn't seeing the profits she'd expected. Apparently it's not always about location, location, location. Potato sandwiches just don't sell -- regardless of where you set up shop.
Sophia Buys a Prizefighter
The next year, the four Golden Girls plan to share a sensible investment: a CD at the local bank. Sophia heads off to the bank with their $3000 savings but is distracted along the way. "I made a very shrewd deal with a guy I met at the bus stop."
She invested the money in a Cuban boxer named Kid Pepe. Sophia tells the girls that "This is the chance of a lifetime! Even if Pepe loses next week's fight, he still gets $10,000... Pepe gets the standard 20% and we're left with a tidy sum for only one week's work!"
Blanche looks skeptical. "So 20% standard for a boxer?"
"It is if he doesn't speak English." Hence the scam.
But who ends up losing? Watch Season 4, Episode 18 of The Golden Girls ("Fiddler on the Ropes") to learn why rolling your CD investment into a prizefighter isn't necessarily the best retirement plan.
The Girls Prepare 300 Chicken Dinners
The Golden Girls' Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
Sophia isn't always the ringleader of moneymaking schemes. When she proposes selling hose water to tourists, Dorothy asks, "Ma, when are you gonna learn that these moneymaking gimmicks of yours never work?" Sophia responds that she's not the only one with big dreams. "I remember a time when we all thought catering was the ticket!"
The Golden Girls' Catering Business
The Golden Girls launch Miami Moms Catering and land a job as wedding consultants. This leads to their investment in 300 chicken dinners. Unfortunately, the bride and groom elope, leaving "the girls" broke and with excessive amounts of chicken. Learn from the Golden Girls (Season 3, Episode 2): When catering a wedding, get payment up front.
Rose & Dorothy Enter a Song Contest
"Miami Is Nice"
Rose [singing]: Miami is nice, so I'll say it thrice...
Dorothy: Thrice, Rose? Who the hell says thrice?!
Rose: It's a word...
Dorothy: So is intra-uterine, but you don't put that in a song.
Rose [singing]: Miami, you are cuter than, an intra-uterine...
Contests are another way that the women pursue money. For example, Dorothy and Rose put their talents to work in a $10,000 songwriting contest for Miami retailers (Season 2, Episode 6). What happens?
Dorothy: We came in second.
Blanche: What'd you get?
Dorothy: Treated badly.
Still, the women enjoyed their collaborative "Simon and Garfunkel" experience and are proud of their catchy tune.
The songwriting contest lacked the tension of another competition they enter: the ballroom dance marathon. A $1000 grand prize is available and Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose are each determined to win. Blanche, for one, wants the money because of her desperate need for medical attention: "If I don't buy a new fall wardrobe, I'll never land myself a doctor."
Each woman dances brilliantly and endures for more than 13 hours. At last, a Golden Girl wins! Blanche is kind enough to share her winnings. Says Dorothy, "With my $10 I bought a can opener I'd been wanting."
Rose Nylund's Amazing Dance (OK, With a Stunt Double)
Conclusion: More Moneymaking Ideas with The Golden Girls
There's no shortage of Golden Girls adventures showing how to make money fast -- or how not to. Other memorable get-rich-quick ideas adventures include:
- Playing the lottery,
- Breeding mink,
- Opening a restaurant on the boardwalk,
- Caring for a large pig "with breath like burning tires" to enjoy its $100,000 inheritance, and
- Investing in art immediately before the artist dies.
What have I forgotten? Share your favorite Golden Girls moneymaking ideas below.
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- The Golden Girls on IMDb (the Internet Movie Database)
Created by Susan Harris. With Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty. Four previously married women live together in Miami, sharing their various experiences together and enjoying themselves despite hard times.
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