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April 25, 2009

Actress Bea Arthur Dies at 86
FILED UNDER: "Pop Culture"
TAGS: Bea ArthurGolden GirlsJackson Bowman
By Jackson B.

bea_arthur_award.jpg


From cbs5.com:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -

Beatrice Arthur, the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" and who won a Tony Award for the musical "Mame," died Saturday. She was 86.

Arthur died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with her family at her side, family spokesman Dan Watt said. She had cancer, Watt said, declining to give details.

"She was a brilliant and witty woman," said Watt, who was Arthur's personal assistant for six years. "Bea will always have a special place in my heart."

In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Arthur said she was lucky to be discovered by TV after a long stage career, recalling with bemusement CBS executives asking about the new "girl."

"I was already 50 years old. I had done so much off-Broadway, on Broadway, but they said, `Who is that girl? Let's give her her own series,'" Arthur said.

"Maude" scored with television viewers immediately on its CBS debut in September 1972, and Arthur won an Emmy Award for the role in 1977.

"She was an incredible actress and a woman I will miss, and I think everyone else will," said Bud Yorkin, producer of "Maude" with partner Lear.

"Golden Girls" (1985-1992) was another groundbreaking comedy, finding surprising success in a television market increasingly skewed toward a younger, product-buying audience.

The interplay among the four women and their relations with men fueled the comedy, and the show amassed a big audience and 10 Emmys, including two as best comedy series and individual awards for each of the stars.

McClanahan said Arthur felt constrained by the show during its later years and in 1992 she announced she was leaving "Golden Girls."

"Bea liked to be the star of the show, she didn't really like to do that ensemble playing," McClanahan said.

McClanahan first worked with Arthur on "Maude," playing her best friend, Vivian. The women quickly became close friends in real life. McClanahan recalled Arthur as a kind and caring person with a no-nonsense edge.

The three other stars returned in "The Golden Palace," but it lasted only one season.

Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Md., where her father opened a clothing store. At 12 she had grown to full height, and she dreamed of being a petite blond movie star like June Allyson. There was one advantage of being tall and deep-voiced: She was chosen for the male roles in school plays.

In 1999, Arthur told an interviewer of the three influences in her career: "Sid Caesar taught me the outrageous; (method acting guru) Lee Strasberg taught me what I call reality; and ('Threepenny Opera' star) Lotte Lenya, whom I adored, taught me economy."

In recent years, Arthur made guest appearances on shows including "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Malcolm in the Middle." She was chairwoman of the Art Attack Foundation, a non-profit performing arts scholarship organization.

Arthur is survived by her sons and two granddaughters. No funeral services are planned.

We'll miss you Bea, thanks for being a friend.

PERMALINK | Posted at 10:45 PM | Post a Comment (1)

1 Comment

You beat me to the punch, Jack! This is a tragedy. Bea was such a wonderful icon and important figure for me. The Golden Girls was perhaps my favorite TV show of all time. Sigh. We miss you already, Bea!!!!

Author Profile Page Trevor User Profile | April 26, 2009 12:27 AM


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