Fabulous comedienne Bea Arthur (center, standing) died on April 25th at the age of 86. Bea contributed to the television world, providing literate and deadpan readings on three series, and was also an acclaimed theatrical actress.
THE GOLDEN GIRLS
Likely her greatest legacy, Bea played Dorthy Zbornak, a divorced substitute school teacher who lived in Miami with two roommates (one lusty, one naive) and her mother. She had a dry wit that was all Bea Arthur; Bea was always the first to credit the writers of the show, but it was trademark delivery that made the dialogue classic. It almost seems impossible to think she only won one Emmy for the series (although, to be fair, each of the Girls one year after the next).
Originally appearing in All in the Family, Maude was Edith Bunker's limousine liberal cousin who matched wits with Archie. Eventually she got her own show and made history with a plotline involving the middle aged Maude Finley making the decision to have an abortion, determining she was too old to raise a child. She won an Emmy.
She won a Tony for the Broadway production, playing Vera Charles to Angela Lansbury's Auntie Mame. She later revisited the role opposite Lucille Ball in the film version, which was not a terrible success. Her signature number in the show, "The Man in the Moon is a Lady," is topped only by her duet with Mame, "Bosom Buddies."
Bea originated the role of Lucy Brown in Kurt Weil's darkly comic The Threepenny Opera . Originally a smaller role, her character was expanded once she was cast.
JUST BETWEEN FRIENDS
Bea's remarkable CD features hysterical stories from her career (although if you're expecting gobs of Golden gossip, look elsewhere) and songs that meant a lot t her. It's the closest we'll ever have to an autobiography, and it is certainly one way to get one hell of a lamb recipe. Standout confessions include: Lansbury's got a dirty mind, Bea always wanted to play Mama Rose, she has a curious costar or two while she was appearing in Fiddler On the Roof, and she failed to catch the eye of a Hollywood casting agent when a young Tony Curtis stole the spotlight.
PAMELA ANDERSON'S ROAST
Bea Arthur offered a singular interpretation of Pam Anderson's book "Star," when her reading included the titular character receiving advice on anal sex.
Bea Arthur's Golden Girls costar, Estelle Getty, died just months ago and it's a fresh sadness to see another great talent leave us.
Love ya, Bea.