Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) died this morning at 86. She had a long career in theater and on television as Maude in the spin-off series and as Dorothy in The Golden Girls. This is sad, and she will be missed. Here's an excerpt from this article:
“Let’s face it,” actress Bea Arthur told an interviewer in 1985, “nobody ever asked me to play Juliet.” At five feet, nine and a half inches, with a deep voice and commanding presence, Arthur has instead made her career playing “strong women” who speak their own minds and control everyone around them. Although these women have included such formidable characters as Yente in Fiddler on the Roof and Vera Charles in Mame, Arthur will probably always be best known for portraying liberal Maude Findlay, the “women’s libber” who stuck it to Archie Bunker on television’s All in the Family and then dominated her own situation comedy, Maude, throughout the 1970s. Arthur’s imperious and controversial Maude left a lasting imprint on American television and feminism.

Befitting her new status as a single, older woman, Bea Arthur created a new television character in the 1980s: Dorothy Zbornak, the divorced schoolteacher of The Golden Girls. From 1985 to 1992, Arthur played Dorothy as the sharp-tongued leader of four older women who lived together in Florida, coping with aging while looking for love and enjoying female friendship. This realistic, funny portrayal of senior citizens won the series a loyal older audience and helped Arthur gamer a second Emmy in 1988.

Despite her continued identification with the theater in the 1990s, it is clearly television audiences that have most warmly embraced Bea Arthur’s “strong women,” and it is through television that Arthur has most influenced American culture. On Maude, Arthur helped break down television barriers and normalize topics like abortion and alcoholism as subjects for open discussion. Perhaps even more important, selves. The sharp-tongued heroine who does not conform to cultural standards of youthful beauty or wifely duty but who holds herself tall and speaks her mind has been a rarity in American popular culture. Bea Arthur embodied this rarity and created a role model for many American women.

9 comments:

David Dust said...

Wow - another Gay Icon gone. Even though I HATED the Lucille Ball version of Mame, I thought Bea Arthur was the PERFECT Vera Charles.

So sad.

Wonder Man said...

Oh No!

mistress maddie said...

It is very sad. I love Bea Authur. I think I will be sad when each of them passes away. I watched every show and have them all on dvd. I feel like I know them. And Maude was priceless!

Bob said...

I just adored her, in everything she did.
We got the chance to see her one-woman show in Florida and she was wonderful.
Like David said, a true gay icon, from way way back.

frogponder said...

I remember watching her over the years. She had a great presence.

#Debi said...

Heard about this a few minutes ago on FB. I identified with Ms. Arthur's characters, believe it or not. I am very sorry that she is gone.

Joy said...

I loved that show, too, and all the characters! They were perfect together. Bea Arthur was wonderful in everything she was in.

Betty White is still on some shows, and wasn't she hilarious in Boston Legal?

Berry Blog said...

Yes, Betty White still make a lot of cameo appearances and one never knows when she will appear next- always bubbly and with a bunch of dogs. Rue doesn't pop up so often but is always a welcome sight when she does.
NBC ran a phone call interview( conference style) with Betty and Rue this morning. They reminisced and free associated very well and seemed quite composed.I guess one gets that way after outliving so many old friends. At funerals I always feel worst for the elders for losing someone they've known longer than I have even lived, and aware how soon their time is coming.
Thanks for posting this.
xoxoxo Charlie

Mark in DE said...

So sad when a true talents leaves us.