On April 25, 2009 the world said good bye to Bea Arthur. At the age of 87 Bea had accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. Her legacy lives on today and will for many years to come!
Bea is probably most famously known for her epic roles as Maude Findlay on the series “Maude” and of course, my all-time favorite, Dorothy Zbornak in the hilariously funny “The Golden Girls” series! But there was much more to Bea that many people don’t know. So to honor her, I would like to share some interesting facts about our Gold Girl Bea!
She was born on May 13, 1922 as Bernice Frankel. Because she hated her name, she used the nickname her mother used to call her…Bea. The Arthur part came from her first husband whose last name she kept even after their divorce.
At age 11 she and her family moved from New York to Maryland where they ran a woman’s clothing store. Before attending college in Virginia, she attended an all-girls boarding school in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which was quite exciting for me to learn, being that I am a native of PA myself!
It is has been written on several accounts that she had a small stint in the US Marine Corp, but denied it later in life. More on that in another article!
Her second marriage was to director Gene Saks, with whom she adopted her two sons, Matthew and Daniel Saks. Both of her sons later found work in the entertainment business, one as a set designer and the other an actor. In fact, Bea’s son Matthew guest starred on an episode of The Golden Girls!
On TV Bea often played strong roles that often “reflected on liberalism and feminism” (imdb.com) for example her character Maude, whom in November 1972, two months before the decision to legalize abortion was made, decided to have an abortion when the character found herself middle aged and pregnant. Then again on The Golden Girls as Dorothy Zbornak, whose character had a shot gun wedding due to the fact that she was pregnant and unwed, among other things!
After The Golden Girls ended on May 9, 1992, Bea continued on! She made several guest appearances on TV shows including: Futurama, Malcolm In The Middle and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2002 Bea returned to her “roots” and went back to Broadway starring in Bea Arthur On Broadway: Just Between Friends. She also created and travelled globally in her one woman show, An Evening With Bea Arthur.
Bea is also credited with being a huge animal rights activist and even has a dog park named after her in Virginia near the PETA headquarters. She was also a gay rights activist and bequeathed a large amount to a homeless shelter for the LGBT community.
It is believed that Bea suffered and died from lung cancer, although I have not been able to find anything to confirm this. She did indeed die from some form of the disease and was cremated after death.
Join me in saying “rest in peace” Bea! Thanks for the laughs! You were truly GOLDEN!
Sources: Wikipedia.com, Imdb.com