Sunday 26 April 2009


Bea Arthur

Farewell to one of the great characters in showbusiness and a wickedly funny lady.

Beatrice Arthur's roles on stage included Lucy Brown in the 1954 Off-Broadway premiere of Marc Blitzstein's English-language adaptation of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, Yente the Matchmaker in the 1964 premiere of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, and her 1966 Tony Award-winning portrayal of Vera Charles to Angela Lansbury's Mame - a role she reprised in the 1974 film version, opposite Lucille Ball.

On TV she achieved success (and won Emmys) as Maude Findlay in the '70s sitcom Maude and, a decade later, as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls, Susan Harris' unflaggingly brilliant comedy about four older women sharing a home in Miami, Florida.

Here she is with her co-stars, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty in a few Golden Moments...

And finally, here's Bea Arthur with her other 'bossom-buddy', Angela Lansbury, giving it hell in a reprise of that show-stopping, high-camp number from Jerry Herman's Mame...

Thanks for all the laughs, Bea!


Andy Latham said...

I was so sad to hear she had passed away. I grew up with the Golden Girls, so much so that the shows are a great comfort for me to watch nowadays. It's a nice bonus that they are still as funny today as they were back then. There has never been another show quite like that one as far as I know.

She'll be sadly missed. She was one of those people who you knew must be great fun in real life, even thought you've never met her.

Brian Sibley said...

I saw Bea's outrageously naughty autobiographical one-woman show, Just Between Friends, but also wish I'd met her in person. The nearest I got (which is, I admit, pretty cool) was interviewing both Betty White and Angela Lansbury who both talked about their 'bosom buddy'!

Brian Sibley said...

By the way, Andy, your photo suddenly seems to have got a good deal younger. What's the painting in the attic looking like right now...?

Andy Latham said...

I age well don't I? You're only as old as your blog how the saying should go. The truth is I tired of the cheesy old picture and couldn't find a respectable new one, so I've temporarily gone with this one that's barely recognisable as me! Not a bad thing in all!!

Oh and I'm very jealous of you meeting both Betty and Angela. You don't get stars like those nowadays do you? Good lord, I think I must be older than I think I am with opinions like that!

Diva of Deception said...

The age thing comes springing up with Golden Girls - I just loved those programmes to distraction and I used to be one of four who met every Monday night for food and gossip and support, we called ourselves the G.G too but sadly one has moved to Spain and we can no longer do this although the three left behind manage an occasional lunch.

The age thing comes springing to mind because, whilst watching those clips, I started hankering after some of the outfits which means I must be out of today's fashion loop now. :(

I think I must be only dressing in things that fit rather than are up to the minute if I really want Blanche's blue outfit or Angela's gown.. I'm stuck in the 80s!

Brian Sibley said...

Talking of Blanche's outfits. Betty White told me a great story about the filming of TGG...

You may recall that the 'Girls' were always cooking cheesecake. Well, whenever there was a cheesecake on set, Betty, Bea and Estelle only ever picked at it - pretending to eat it for the take, but not really doing so. Rue, on the other hand, wolfed them down by the plateful and very soon was beginning to bulge in her usually close-fitting dresses.

Betty was delegated by the other two to suggest to Rue that maybe really eating the cheesecake in every take wasn't such a good idea.

Rue listened to Betty's suggestion, smiled, shrugged and said: "It's OK dear, it can't do you any harm it's only television food!"