One of Don Cheadle's Early Acting Roles Was on the Sequel to 'The Golden Girls'

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Jan. 10 2022, Published 5:32 p.m. ET

Before his password was "WARMACHINEROX," Don Cheadle had his own humble beginnings. After some small roles in films like 1987's Hamburger Hill and 1988's Colors, the award-winning actor's career began to flourish in the 1990s. While he's best known for his work in film, one of his earliest starring roles was in The Golden Palace, a short-lived sequel to one of the most celebrated American sitcoms in television history. And you can now watch it on Hulu.

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These days, Don Cheadle is best known for several notable roles. He has portrayed James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2010. He is also known for starring in the Ocean's film franchise and the Showtime series House of Lies. He even briefly voiced Donald Duck in the 2017 reboot of DuckTales. He's also a known activist, having campaigned to end genocide in Darfur and shown solidarity for the transgender community while hosting Saturday Night Live in 2019.

His acting career is celebrated today, but his humble beginnings place him alongside the likes of the Golden Girls, including the recently departed Betty White.

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Don Cheadle previously starred in 'The Golden Palace.'

In 1992, Don Cheadle starred in The Golden Palace, a sequel to the classic sitcom The Golden Girls. Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty each reprise their respective Golden Girls roles as Rose Nylund, Blanche Devereaux, and Sophia Petrillo. Following the Golden Girls finale and the marriage and departure of Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), the ladies decide to invest in a Miami hotel. But with little staff to speak of, they must help out with menial hotel duties.

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For Don Cheadle's part, he starred as hotel manager Roland Wilson. Roland is often played as a foil to the antics of the main cast. He and Chuy Castillos (Cheech Marin) are the only two remaining staff members from the previous owners who stay on to help Rose, Blanche, and Sophia. Roland also briefly cares for an arrogant foster child named Oliver Webb (Billy L. Sullivan).

The series only lasted a season between 1992 and 1993 and garnered lukewarm ratings in its time. The show received decent reviews, though many stated that it paled in comparison to the original series. But The Golden Palace did have some revitalized attention as recently as 2020.

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As the Black Lives Matter movement saw increased activity in 2020 in the wake of ongoing violence against Black people, journalist Seb Starcevic noted a scene from the series in which Roland confronts Blanche about the problematic history behind the Confederate flag that she displays in the hotel. If nothing else, the scene reflects Don Cheadle's activist nature even in the early days of his career.

It's no stretch to say that Don Cheadle's career has flourished since his time on The Golden Palace. He currently serves as the narrator in ABC's new comedy series The Wonder Years. He will also reprise his role as War Machine again in an upcoming MCU series known as Armor Wars.

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