There's nothing like a health spa development scheme gone bad between a former sitcom star and some dude.
In this case – and feel free to put case in quotes if you like – the former sitcom star is Rue McClanahan of The Golden Girls fame and the some dude is Dirk Summers, the latter of whom claims to have been in a romantic relationship with McClanahan from 1980 to 1997 and is now demanding $3.7 million in punitive damages in California Superior Court over perceived "slander," "malicious conduct," "libel," "loss of reputation," and other calamitous piercings of the soul's honor and the like.
The facts of the case have the distinction of being both muddled and thin, perfect for the Hollywood climes from which they sprung. Whatever golden age that there was for the couple seems to have gone sour over plans to create and develop something called the Elan Vital Wellness and Longevity Centre (there is no indication that the name of the project will be optioned to a B grade science fiction film).
To boil things down: Summers (no relation to Buffy) claims that McClanahan was supposed to cough up $10 million so that they could borrow another $40 million against it to get the epic experiment in Wellness rolling. Somewhere down the line, McClanahan got the impression that Summers forged her name on escrow and bank documents and subsequently stole $200,000 from her. That's where the allegations of libel, slander, defamation, and free-ranging reputation hackery supposedly come in.
Without any response to the original lawsuit from McClanahan, the trial court awarded Summers $3.7 million based on Summers' version of the story. The appellate court set it aside because she wasn't served properly. So now the ride round the legal merry-go-round begins yet again, this time with the opportunity to hear McClanahan's side of the story.
The Golden Girls aired from 1985 to 1992, pumping out a full 180 episodes of middle-of-the-road young-at-heart lady bantery set in a Florida condo. It was a different time for television and in America: the Reagan-Bush I years, pre-Seinfeld-ian irony and nothingness, a time when a sitcom about four aging ladies with a wacky neighbor could reign supreme.
In a way, the show can be thought of as a precursor to Sex and the City, both shows that shed light on and make fun of the struggles that single women face as they grow older. Rue McClanahan played Blanche Devereaux, who, as the self-admitted and self-indulgent slut of the gang-of-four, could easily be an older stand in for Kim Cattrall's Samantha Jones.
McClanahan's acting career spans five decades. Along with The Golden Girls, she also appeared in other hit sitcoms such as Maud and Momma's Family. More recently, she has appeared in the occasional television show or film. A notable appearance was a 2004 episode of the great and short-lived Wonderfalls ("Barrel Bear"). Rue played a woman who had fooled the nation for decades as the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
It remains to be seen whether or not Dirk Summers vs. Rue McClanahan falls into a similar category of foolishness.