Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur: 1922-2009

When I first saw the headline on Yahoo's home page that Bea Arthur had died at the age of 86, my reaction was, "Aw man!" Not only because I've been a fan of her work since I was a kid, but I didn't know she was ill with cancer.

Performers are lucky if they get a chance to star in one successful series; Bea had the good fortune to have appeared in two. On Maude, she played the title character (an outspoken, upper-class liberal living with her fourth husband, daughter and grandson in a New York suburb). As domineering as Maude could be, her friends and family didn't hesitate to put her in her place. When they did, Maude often responded with one of my favorite catchphrases, "God'll get you for that." Although Maude isn't seen much these days in reruns, those unfamiliar with it can get a sampling of the character because Bea Arthur appeared in two early episodes of All In the Family (she was Edith's cousin). The highlights of those two episodes are Maude's verbal joustings with Archie.

As good as Maude was, I think The Golden Girls was an even better showcase of Bea Arthur's talents. Along with the sarcastic zingers that Bea got to deliver, some of the best moments from The Golden Girls are her facial expressions in reaction to one of Rose's St. Olaf stories, Blanche reminiscing about her numerous sexual conquests, or Sophia telling a lie about her days in Sicily. Although I really liked Blanche, Rose and Sophia, Dorothy has the slight edge as my favorite character on the show.

You can watch and remember the greatness of Bea Arthur in three clips below. The first 2 are scenes from her first appearance on All In the Family (the 1971 episode "Cousin Maude's Visit"). The third is a montage of some of her best moments on The Golden Girls.

10 comments:

pjazzypar said...

While the other "Golden Girls" got all the glory, accolades and Emmy nominations, Bea Arthur as Dorothy was arguably the most funny of the four women. You pointed out her facial expressions. I remember when I first saw "the look", it was focused on Archie Bunker, as she told Edith, "never fear, Maudie's here"!

Of course you know how I felt about Maude. Not only was she outspoken, progressive, and aggressive as hell, but her show ultimately spun off one of my all time favorites "Good Times". I can imagine that she, Esther Rolle, and Estelle Getty are in the afterlife having a good laugh right not:-D

The show Maude also had one of the best theme songs of all time sang by the late, great, Donny Hathaway.

I can remember this song verbatim, but I cannot remember what I had for lunch yesterday, go figure.

Lady Godiva was a freedom rider, she didn't care if the whole world looked

Joan of Ark with the Lord to guide her, she was a sister who really cooked

Isadora was the first bra burner, ain't you glad she showed up

And when the country was falling apart Betsy Ross got it all sewed up

And then there's Maude

And then there's Maude

And then there's Maude

And then there's Maude

And then there's that old uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranquilizing, right on Maude

"Right on Bea"! RIP

Marvalus said...

I absolutely loved Dorothy...she was my favorite Golden Girl...I get up at 7 in the morning to watch GG and sit up late at night to watch again (the SAME 4 episodes!)...

And you are right...it is her facial expressions, her zingers, her aura that I loved so much about her. I don't remember Maude much, but I remember loving Bea.

Man, I'm just feeling real sad right now...

The Rock Chick said...

Few could pull of sarcasm and those facial expressions like she could. I remember watching Maude when I was little. I don't think I appreciated it back then. On the rare occasions I've seen it in re-run, I thought it was hysterical. She will be missed.

Oh and please don't ask any Maude questions in your Trivia game. Pjazzy would have me beat, for sure and I'm still a little bruised from falling off the podium and repeatedly trying to climb back up! LOL

Jenny said...

oh man. i loved golden girls too. wow i didnt know she died. ill have to tell my father in law.

Lori said...

Yes, Bea Arthur will always be "Maude" to me. Even when she was on the Golden Girls, I called her Maude.

I didn't realize just how ill she was. You really didn't hear a lot of media updates on her status, like you do some other entertainers. But over the weekend, I saw some of her latest headshots and could readily see the toll her illness had taken.

A big LOL at PJazzy for recalling & sharing the words to Maude's song. Those words are also a very fitting salute, don'tcha think? (smile)

red said...

RIP indeed. I think she was my favorite GG character, too.

Candy Minx said...

Great post...and she was amazing on Golden Girls, I agree!

Janet said...

She reminded me so much of my Mom...i was sad to hear of her passing.

Mama Pajama said...

I loved my Dorothy...I always enjoyed her sarcastic jabs aimed at Blanche and Rose. I never saw Maude, but I get the feeling I would have liked it. RIP Pussycat.

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: I think the accolades were spread out fairly evenly (each of the "The Golden Girls" won an Emmy apiece). I wish that there could have been some crossover episodes once "Maude" launched because the verbal sparring between her and Archie were classic.

I was just saying on my show yesterday that the theme from "Maude" was one of my favorites. It's too bad that so few TV shows today have themes that do a good job of "setting the scene". The only one I can think of is the theme to "Monk".

Marvalus: If I think to on the weekend, I will catch it on The Hallmark Channel. You may already know, but The Hallmark Channel is doing an 18 1/2 marathon of The Golden Girls starting at 8:30 this Sunday morning.

The Rock Chick: You are going to love this. I have an all "Maude" Tuesday Trivia coming up in the next few weeks.

Jenny: Thanks for stopping by.

Lori: From what I've heard, Bea Arthur seemed to be a very private person. That likely explains why many didn't know about her illness.

Yes, those words are very fitting.

Red: Thanks for stopping by and showing some Bea love.

Candy: Thanks!

Janet: I can imagine that you have some humorous memories of your mother if she was anything like Bea Arthur.

Mama PJ: I liked how Sophia called her "Pussycat". As much as she used to insult Dorothy, that nickname shows how Sophia really felt about her.

 
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