In 1972 Rue Mc Clanahan was cast as Bea Arthur's best friend in the programme, featuring in 100 episodes until the show ended in 1978.
"I felt financially secure for the first time," she said.
But the marriage soon soured, and when she discovered she was pregnant, Rue Mc Clanahan returned to her parents' home to have the baby.
She saw her husband once more, after their son, Mark, was born.
Soon afterwards she was offered a role in The Golden Girls, again starring opposite Bea Arthur.
Also in the cast was Peter D'Maio, who was destined to become Rue Mc Clanahan's third husband. With television roles beginning to come, she sent her son home to live with her mother.
The series, which ran from 1985 to 1992, centred around four older women living together in Miami.
Acid-tongued, naive or cynical, the characters were regarded as a trailblazing celebration of women of a certain age.
Indeed, despite all her success, Rue Mc Clanahan claimed that she "never got the habit of watching television".
After her character was dropped from Another World she made a guest appearance in All in the Family, a groundbreaking sitcom which led to a spin-off series, Maude, starring Bea Arthur.
Her father, William, was a builder who kept the family moving as he followed the work around the American South.