Betty White: Rue McClanahan's Death 'Hurts More Than I Ever Thought'

Betty White: Rue McClanahan's Death 'Hurts More Than I Ever Thought'
Rue McClanahan (left) and Betty White, in June 2008
Giulio Marcocchi/Sipa

updated 06/03/2010 AT 02:50 PM EDT

originally published 06/03/2010 AT 02:15 PM EDT

She's now the last living Golden Girl. For Betty White the loss of her costar Rue McClanahan struck hard.

"Rue was a close and dear friend. I treasure our relationship," White, 88, said in a statement. "It hurts more than I ever thought it would, if that's even possible."

McClanahan died early Thursday at age 76 after suffering a stroke, following the deaths of costars Bea Arthur last year at age 86 and Estelle Getty in 2008 at age 84 .

Golden Girls producer and writer Marc Cherry also expressed sadness over McClanahan's death.

"When I worked on The Golden Girls, my favorite character to write for was Blanche Devereaux," he said. "In the hands of lesser actresses Blanche's vanity and sexual appetite would have been off-putting. But in Rue's brilliant hands, that character became one of the most beloved in the history of TV.

"Rue's kindness, generosity and enormous talent will be sorely missed."

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