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Bea Arthur Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (77)  | Personal Quotes (28)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameBernice Frankel
Nickname Bea
Height 5' 9½" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Actress-comedienne Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel on May 13, 1922 in New York City to a Jewish family. She grew up in Maryland, where her parents ran a dress shop. At 12 years old, she was the tallest girl in her school at 5'9".

She earned the title of "Wittiest Girl" in her school, and her dream was to be in show business, but didn't think her family would support her on that. She then worked as a laboratory technician, drove a truck, and worked as a typist in the Marine Corps. Her brief first marriage ended in divorce. Afterwards, she told her parents she wanted to pursue a career in show business, and they supported her decision to join the New York's Dramatic Workshop for the New School for Social Research.

Arthur (her acting name based on a variation of her first husband's surname) played classical and dramatic roles, but it would be years before she found her niche in comedy. Her breakthrough came on stage while appearing in the musical play "The Threepenny Opera," with Lotte Lenya. For one season in the 1950's, she was a regular on Sid Caesar's television show,Caesar's Hour (1954). In 1964, she became truly famous as Yente the Matchmaker, in the original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof". While a small supporting role, Arthur stole the show night after night.

In 1966, she went to work on a new Broadway musical, "Mame", directed by her second husband, Gene Saks, winning a Tony Award for the featured role of Vera Charles. The show's star, Angela Lansbury, also won a Tony Award, and she and Bea became lifelong friends. In 1971, Arthur appeared on the hit sitcom All in the Family (1971) as Maude Findlay, Edith Bunker's cousin, who was forever driving Archie Bunker crazy with her liberal politics. The guest appearance led to Arthur's own series, Maude (1972). The show was a hit, running for six years, during which many controversial topics of the time, including abortion, were tackled, and Bea won her first Emmy Award. While doing Maude (1972), Arthur repeated the role of Vera Charles in the film version of Mame (1974), again directed by Gene Saks, but it was a dismal flop. She also appeared on The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). While appearing in Maude (1972), she raised her two sons, whom she had adopted with husband Gene Saks. After the show ended, so did her marriage to Saks. She never remarried, and became a lifelong animal rights' activist.

In 1983, she started working on a new sitcom, Amanda's (1983), patterned after BritaIn's Fawlty Towers (1975) but it was short-lived. In 1985, came The Golden Girls (1985) made its debut. Co-starring Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, the show was about the lives of three middle-aged women, and one's elderly mother, (played by Getty, who was actually younger than White and Arthur), living in Miami. It was an immediate hit, running for seven seasons. All of the cast members, including Arthur, won Emmy Awards during the show's run. She left when she thought each show was at its peak. The producers realized the shows wouldn't be the same without her. In 1992, The Golden Girls (1985) was canceled. Arthur kept a low profile, appearing in only two movies: For Better or Worse (1995) and Enemies of Laughter (2000).

In 1999, Arthur made an appearance at The N.Y. Friars Club Roast of Jerry Stiller (1999). She did a one-woman stage show in 2001, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. In 2003, she reunited with Betty White and Rue McClanahan for The Golden Girls (1985) reunion special on the Lifetime Channel. Noticeably absent was supporting actress Estelle Getty, who was ill. The three lead actresses made appearances together for the rest of the decade to promote DVD releases of The Golden Girls (1985). They appeared together for the last time in 1998, at the TV Land Awards, receiving a standing ovation as they accepted the Pop Culture Award. She attended, with Angela Lansbury, her induction into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

On April 25, 2009, at home with her family, Arthur died of cancer. She was 86. She was survived by her two sons, Matthew and Daniel, and her grandchildren, Kyra and Violet. In her will, she left $300,000 to New York's Ali Forney Center, an organization supporting homeless LGBT youths.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tommy Peter

Spouse (2)

Gene Saks (28 May 1950 - 27 June 1978) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Robert Alan Aurthur (? - ?) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (5)

Husky resonant voice
Caustic, acid wit
Deadpan delivery
Usually played the roles that reflected upon liberalism and feminism
The catchphrase, "God Will Get You For That!"

Trivia (77)

Arthur won Emerson College's Musical Theater Society's Achievement Award in 2000.
Survived by her two sons, Matthew Saks (born July 14, 1961) and Daniel Saks (born May 8, 1964), whom she and former husband Gene Saks adopted at birth.
She was best friends with Angela Lansbury since appearing together in "Mame". This was a friendship she spoke fondly of in her one-woman show.
She did not like to watch her own performances on television or film.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 29-30. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
In 1966 she won a Tony Award as Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for playing Vera Charles in "Mame", a part she recreated in the film version by the same name, Mame (1974).
Was a qualified medical technician.
Once appeared on Judge Judy (1996) as a witness for a defendant who was involved with the animal rights organization PETA. The defendant won.
In 2002 she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for her one-woman show "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends".
According to a television interview, Arthur claimed that her start in comedy came when she was only a lounge singer. Apparently, when she got up on stage to sing torch songs, the audience would laugh at her because of her deep voice and her height. The nightclub manager then approached her and told her she was in the wrong business. She should be doing comedy instead.
Considered Amanda's (1983) and an episode of Saturday Night Live (1975) as her worst career experiences. She also regretted the film version of Mame (1974), directed by her then-husband Gene Saks.
Best known by the public for her starring roles as the title character in Maude (1972) and as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls (1985).
Her former Maude (1972) co-star, Adrienne Barbeau, was reunited with her on The View (1997), in 2007. They were there to promote the DVD release of the first season of Maude.
Before she was a successful actress and comedienne, Bea Arthur was one of the first women to become an active-duty United States Marine. She volunteered and served during World War II as a truck driver and a typist in the Marine Corps. She was stationed at Marine Corps and Navy air stations in Virginia and North Carolina. During her military career, Arthur's rank went from private to corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant, the title she held upon her honorable discharge in September 1945.
She is survived by two granddaughters, Kyra and Violet.
Was 5'9-1/2" by the time she was 12 years old.
Her idol when she was young was June Allyson.
Remained good friends with Adrienne Barbeau during and after Maude (1972).
As a girl, Arthur attended Linden Hall School for Girls, an all girls school in Lititz, Pennsylvania, where she was voted "The Wittiest Girl in High School". Later she attended Blackstone College for Girls in Blackstone, Virginia, where she was active in drama productions.
After her death The Ali Forney Center, a New York not-for-profit agency devoted to providing emergency shelter, medical services, and help getting off the streets to young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless people, learned that she had left them $300,000.00 in her will. The center plans to use the bequest to buy a building that will become permanent housing for some of these youths. The center plans to name the building The Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT Homeless Youth.
Words of remembrance for "Time" magazine's milestones tribute by TV critic Jim Poniewozik (Issue: May 11, 2009).
Got a phone call from Norman Lear, about guest-starring on a few episodes of All in the Family (1971), only because Lear strongly insisted her on doing it, despite Arthur, who hated flying. She agreed at the very last minute to take the role for a few episodes, hence, this led her into her starring role on Maude (1972).
Claimed that co-star Esther Rolle didn't display any comedic talent on Maude (1972), until she was given her own show Good Times (1974). She would quote Maude writer Arthur Julian statement about Rolle: "My name is Esther Rolle. I don't do windows, and I don't do comedy.".
Arthur's first husband Robert Alan Aurthur died of lung cancer in 1978.
She was a lifelong liberal Democrat and over the years was in support of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. She also was a donor to the Democratic National Committee and like her trademark characters of Maude Findlay and Dorothy Zbornak her Democratic concepts constantly coincided with her views on education, womens rights, gay liberation, and economics.
She and Golden Girls costar Estelle Getty were posthumously inducted as Disney Legends in 2009. Betty White and Rue McClanahan were also inducted the same year.
She was frequently referenced in dialogue as being the favorite actress and an icon to the Marvel Comics' character Deadpool.
Was the popular national spokesperson for Canadian drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart in television and radio commercials throughout the 1980s.
Met first husband Robert Alan Aurthur while she was in the Marines, the year after her enlistment.
According to ex-The Golden Girls (1985) co-star, Betty White, after Arthur's death, she said in an interview, Arthur wasn't too fond of White. Arthur had found her a pain in the neck sometimes and White would set her off.
Just a few days after her death, the Broadway community paid tribute to Arthur by dimming the marquees of New York City's Broadway theater district in her memory for one minute at 8:00 p.m.
Though Estelle Getty played her mother in The Golden Girls (1985), Estelle was one year younger than Bea.
Classmate of Marlon Brando.
Acting mentor and friend of Adrienne Barbeau.
Appeared on the front cover of TV Guide six times.
Studied acting at Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop of the New School in New York City.
Longtime friends of Doris Roberts and Shirley MacLaine.
Her son, Daniel Saks, was the set designer for the sitcom Dharma & Greg (1997).
Won an award of achievement from Emerson College's Musical Theater Society, in Boston, Massachusetts. [2006].
Was the only regular cast member of The Golden Girls (1985) who didn't go on to star in the spin-off series The Golden Palace (1992). She guest starred for one episode.
In May 2013 a nude painting of her sold for $1.9 million in New York City.
Began her show Maude (1972) at age 50.
Would frequently visit her ex-Maude (1972) co-star's, Adrienne Barbeau's twin sons at their house.
Played Dorothy Zbornak on three shows: The Golden Girls (1985), Empty Nest (1988) and The Golden Palace (1992).
At the Savoy Theatre in London, England, UK; performs in her show "Bea Arthur at the Savoy" created by herself and Billy Goldenberg in collaboration with Charles Randolph-Wright with production consultants Mark Waldrep and Richard Maltby Jr.. [September 2003]
Makes her Australian debut in Melbourne and Sydney in "And Then There's Bea" from mid October to early November. [October 2002]
Former college classmate of: Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, Harry Belafonte and Rod Steiger.
Had escaped the alienation she felt in the Eastern shoretown, by going to the movies on Saturdays.
Before becoming a successful actress and comedienne, she was employed to sing on weekends, occasionally, for $2 a night, in Cambridge, Maryland.
Arthur convinced her parents to send her to summer school in New York.
Met second husband Gene Saks, while in acting school, in 1949.
Before she was a successful actress and a comedienne, she once worked at a nightclub in New York City.
She was most widely known to be a very private and shy lady.
Bea Arthur passed away on April 25, 2009. Her ex-The Golden Girls (1985) co-star, Estelle Getty, passed away 1 year before her in July 2008.
Her parents, Philip and Rebecca (née Pressner) Frankel, both Jewish, were managers at a woman's department store in Cambridge, Maryland.
Dorothy Zbornak, her character from The Golden Girls (1985) was based on creator Susan Harris.
Like fellow actresses Charlotte Rae and Marla Gibbs, Arthur eventually wound up being a comedienne.
Met Carroll O'Connor, in 1964, when he was doing a play called "Ullysees in Nighttown." Eight years later, Arthur had guest-starred on 2 episodes of All in the Family (1971), before she starred in the spin-off Maude (1972).
When she was a young girl, she used to do Mae West imitations.
In 2014, five years after Arthur's death, her sister, Kay, who lived in Montreal, Quebec, died at age 88.
When Arthur was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Maryland, in 1933.
Enjoyed spending time with her family, singing, collecting antique furniture, traveling, gardening, taking care of pets and dancing.
Legally changed her name from Bernice Frankel to Bea Arthur, a variation of Robert Alan Aurthur's surname; the two wed in 1947.
She played Dorothy Zbornak from 1985 to 1993, but only made one guest appearance on the spinoff, The Golden Palace (1992).
Arthur and her ex-Maude (1972) co-star, Conrad Bain, were the only 2 not to guest-star on Murder, She Wrote (1984), which featured her best friend, Angela Lansbury.
Future actors Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and future comediennes/comedians Graham Elwood, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Leah Remini, all said Arthur was their childhood television heroine.
Her show The Golden Girls (1985) was awarded the Pop Culture award at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards. Arthur accepted the award with Rue McClanahan and Betty White, it would also be Arthur's last public appearance. [8 June 2008].
Directed her family that no funeral be held after her passing.
On Maude (1972), her character was liberal, in real-life, Arthur was a liberal Democrat.
As of 2019, she has not yet received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
When she was starring in Maude (1972), she was doing an episode about abortion. Even though abortion was legal in New York State, it was illegal in many other regions of the country, and as such sparked controversy. As a result, dozens of affiliates refused to broadcast the episode when it was originally scheduled, substituting either a repeat from earlier in the season or a Thanksgiving TV special in its place. However, by the time of the summer rerun season six months later all the flak had died down, and the stations that refused to air the episode upon its first run reinstated it for the reruns the following summer. As a result, a reported 65 million viewers watched the two episode arc either in their first run that November or during the following summer as a rerun.
Has resided in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, California, for 37 years, from 1972-2009. She also sublet her apartment on Central Park West in New York City and her country home in Bedford, New York.
Bea Arthur passed away on April 25, 2009, just 2 and 1/2 weeks short of her 87th birthday.
After her last guest-starring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000), she retired from acting at age 83.
She served in the Marine Corps during World War II.
She remained a big fan of The Golden Girls (1985) long after the show ended and watch old reruns of the show proudly. She said, ""Some times I'll wake up in the middle of the night & think of a line & start to laugh. The writing was brilliant".
Was the only cast member to appear in all 141 episodes of Maude (1972).

Personal Quotes (28)

All this time I've just wanted to be blonde, beautiful and 5 feet 2 inches tall.
I really feel all my adult life has been spent in that little black box. If a wonderful part on TV came along I would do it. But I don't want to do a recurring role. It would just be my luck that the thing would be successful. I'm old enough now and also secure enough financially that I really only want to do what I want to do.
At least I'm not playing other people for a change. It's a very odd place to be... I feel I'm an actress who sings a bit.
After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porno.
And I hate autobiographies, I don't know why.
[on playing "Vera Charles" in Mame (1974)] You know, the real name of this show is "Vera". The only reason they changed the name was because Jerry [lyricist Jerry Herman] couldn't think of a rhyme for it. Stephen Sondheim could have.
[on the death of Estelle Getty in 2008]: Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever, and I will miss her.
Look -- I'm 5-feet-9, I have a deep voice and I have a way with a line. What can I do about it? I can't stay home waiting for something different. I think it's a total waste of energy worrying about typecasting.
Let's face it, nobody ever asked me to play Juliet.
[In 1973]: There comes a morning when you wake up and realize you're not Barbra Streisand. If a woman my age is still fighting for roles, it can only mean there's something missing from her personal life.
In sitcoms, the women are so beautiful, understanding and well-bred. They have humor, but sort of display it with a twinkle of the eye and not a guffaw. But there's no juice in that for me.
[When she won the 1966 Broadway Tony Award for her portrayal of Vera Charles in Mame]: I just learned that expression.
[When a knock on the front door produced the lady in tennis shoes]: I hope you won't be afraid of George and Julie, they're really very friendly.
[In 1972]: No, no, don't call me Ms. I don't go along with this liberation thing. Liberation from what?
I don't think they realized how completely vulnerable I am. Matter of fact, I may start crying right now; if you let me.
[on the cancelation of The Golden Girls (1985)]: I stayed with it for 7 years. I think, definitely, I made the right decision, cause we had highs that we couldn't top.
[on the cancelation of Maude (1972)]: I have had six full years. It's been glorious, I've loved every minute of it. But it has been six years and I think it's time to leave.
[In 1978]: Norman has had an idea some time ago in which Maude becomes a congresswoman and moves to Washington. Norman said if you go on for another year, we'll do it in Washington with a new cast. And if you don't, it's a hell of a way to end the show.
[In 1975]: If I could only repeal the law of gravity.
As an artist. As an important artist.
I really feel that I'm an exposed nerve... I don't know how else to say it, but I am. I'm moved by everything.
I've seen so many excellent actors - excellent actors - who the minute they're told they're in a comedy turn into god knows what - creatures from another planet! I mean they just.. the voice changes, they don't look the same, it's like - it has no similarity to any living human being, do you know what I mean? Or don't you? And I'm not talking about Sylvester Stallone... but there's a good example. You know what I mean? It comes down to what I said at the beginning of this: belief, truth... It's truth.
[In 1976]: Other than that it was a fun show to do. But I'll tell you one thing. That's the first and last time you'll see me on a horse - white or any color. The first person to suggest I do a Matt Dillon impression is not going to walk without pain for a week!
[When she gained popularity as the fifty-something Maude Findlay on Maude]: This show was every bit as tough as the analysis' show, but at least I wasn't out there all alone so that made it almost bearable. Of course the fact that we all had the flu and none of us had had time for Christmas shopping didn't make it easier.
I've been a Democrat my whole life. That's what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.
[on her reclusive final days]: I like to be myself and rest.
[In 1985, about her devotion to the elderly, taking over from her mother's suicide]: She had all her marbles, she was in great shape, but she was almost totally deaf and almost totally blind, and really just wanted out. It was really something, anyway, you do what you have to do. So. Why are all these people suffering from AIDS? You think-do it. Don't prolong it. I'm sure I don't feel any different from anybody else about that...I would rather they died than see the terrible ravages of this horrendous disease.
[In 2001, when asked whether she was also credited as Jane Ross] Why, I never heard of that! My name? You mean, my real name? Are you serious? It's the first I've heard of that. The first I've heard of that! What does that mean? No one ever consulted me. No, in the movie that I made with Jason Alexander called For Better or Worse (1995), I absolutely refused screen credit, because I felt the part wasn't that important, and I didn't feel that I did that great a job in it. But I don't remember a pseudonym.

Salary (1)

The Perry Como Show (1968) $650 per episode

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