Bea Arthur: Last of the Good Ones?

Bea Arthur lost her battle with cancer on Saturday. She died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with family by her side, she was 86.

Needless to say, Bea Arthur is in the Land of Punt.

Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel on May 13, 1922.

Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel on May 13, 1922.

During her career, she starred in two highly rated and highly acclaimed television shows, Maude and The Golden Girls. Both shows garnered the New York born actress Emmy Awards. She also won a Tony Award for her performance in Mame.

Don’t think that because she was “found” by television executives when she was 50, or because The Golden Girls is about four retirees waiting for death in Miami, that she’s solely for your grandmother. Bea Arthur transcends the ravages of time. Regardless of your age, you’re bound to find Bea Arthur hilarious. No one had better comedic timing than Bea Arthur. No one.

If you are unfamiliar with her work you need to change that right away. Watch Maude and the Golden Girls (especially the Golden Girls) on DVD as soon as you can. For connoisseurs of television, her work is required viewing.

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The Golden Girls may have starred four “old” ladies, but their trails and tribulations were similar to those of young people on their own for the first time, or in the case of Bea Arthur’s Dorothy Zbornak, being on their own for the first time in a long time. Everyone can relate to the Golden Girls.

Despite being stick in the 1970’s, Bea Arthur’s Maude Finley tackled new ground hitherto unexplored by television sitcoms. Not only did Maude’s husband become an alcoholic, but she had an abortion. LOP believes no current sitcom character (at least non-animated characters) would ever get an abortion.

Bea Arthur appeared in the Woody Allen play The Floating Lightbulb (1982) and costarred in The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). She had a song and dance routine in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

She’s made notable guest appearances on Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2005, she participated in the Comedy Central roast of Pamela Anderson where she read excerpts from Anderson’s book.

Not everything she did turned to gold. In 1983, she played the lead role in Amanda’s, the ill-fated American version of Faulty Towers. Only 13 episodes were produced, all but three aired. The original Faulty Towers consisted only 12 episodes.

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Sadly, Bea Arthur wouldn’t had made it in today’s television landscape. Standing 5’9″ tall and possessing a deep voice, Bea Arthur lacked the shallow beauty networks crave nowadays. Think of Bea Arthur as a manlier, tallerTina Fey only with acting talent.

Bea Arthur could sing, act and tell a joke. In fact, she wasn’t just a great comedic actor, she was legitimately funny. In her day and age, talent like hers was coveted. In this day and age, talent is not. You’d be right to fear that we may never have the privilege to experience a performer like Bea Arthur again.

That’s a shame because Bea Arthur is one of the all-time greats.

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