Monday, April 27, 2009


Bea Arthur has died, just a few weeks shy of her 87th birthday. She had been making a nice career for herself in theater when she finally burst into the biig-time of the national consciousness with the spin-off from 'All In The Family', 'Maude'.

Because she had spent all that time on Broadway, I had no conception of her while growing up in Connecticut. So when she first showed up in an episode of 'All In The Family' as Edith's cousin Maude Findlay, she was an overwhelming revelation to me. And she remained so in everything I saw her do.

For me, it'll always be Maude Findlay who'll be THE Bea Arthur role, although I know for many it's as Dorothy Zbornak on 'The Golden Girls'. I think that perception is helped greatly by its presence in syndication. Since 'Maude' was so topical, it probably hasn't aged very well.

With such a distinctive voice, I'm surprised Bea Arthur didn't appear more often in animated productions. As far as I can tell, her appearance as the Femputer in 'Futurama' was her only foray into the Tooniverse. (But I could be wrong about that.) A Pixar role would have been so cool! (I'm thinking 'Cars'.....)

Sometimes the material was obviously beneath her, (for example, the 'Star Wars Holiday Special'), but Bea Arthur's commanding presence always carried her through it.

As to her membership in Toobworld's League of Themselves, Bea Arthur made several interesting appearances on fictionalized talk shows like 'Sean's Show' and 'Dame Edna's Hollywood'.

Eventually, Ms. Arthur will be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame for Dorothy Zbornak. And I think the case could be made for Maude Findlay as well, since her show launched 'Good Times'.

She'll be missed......

Here are the characters she has given Toobworld:

"The Golden Girls" .... Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak "Amanda's" .... Amanda Cartwright "Maude" .... Maude Findlay "The Sid Caesar Show" (1963) TV series .... Regular

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" .... Larry's Mother
- The End (2005)

"Malcolm in the Middle" .... Mrs. White
- Water Park (2000)

"Dave's World" .... Mel Bloom
- Bad News Barry's (1997)
- Touched by an Agent (1997)
- Dave Barry, Call Your Agent (1997)

"The Golden Palace" .... Dorothy Zbornak Hollingsworth
- Seems Like Old Times: Part 2 (1992)
- Seems Like Old Times: Part 1 (1992)

"Empty Nest" .... Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak
- Dumped (1989)

"a.k.a. Pablo"
- My Son, the Gringo

"Soap" .... Angel
- Jessica's Wonderful Life (1980)

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) (TV) .... Ackmena

- Episode dated 25 October 1977

"All in the Family" .... Maude Findlay
- Maude (1972)
- Cousin Maude's Visit (1971)

"Omnibus" .... Ugly Witch
- Mrs. McThing (1958)

"Kraft Television Theatre"
- Material Witness (1958)
- The Discoverers (1957)
- The Just and the Unjust (1956)
- Patterns (1955)
- Her Father's Butler (1953)
- Zone Four (1951)
- Paper Moon (1951)

"The Seven Lively Arts" .... Hostess
- Gold Rush (1958)

"Washington Square" (1956)

"Caesar's Hour" (1954)

"Studio One"
- Flowers from a Stranger (1953)
- They Came to Bagdad (1952)
- The Guinea Pig (1951)

My First Love (1988) .... Jean Miller
P.O.P. (1984) .... Rosalyn Gordon
The Gift of the Magi (1958) (TV) .... Mrs. Abercrombie

"Futurama" .... Femputer
- Amazon Women in the Mood (2001)

- Ellen: A Hollywood Tribute: Part 1 (1998)

"Sean's Show"
- Episode #2.1 (1993)

"Dame Edna's Hollywood"
- Episode #1.1 (1991)

The Beatrice Arthur Special (1980)

"The Mary Tyler Moore Hour"
- Episode #1.2 (1979)

Max Liebman Presents: Kaleidoscope (1955) .... Guest

"Once Upon a Tune" (1951) Good night and may God bless.....

Toby O'B


Nomad said...

Bea Arthur was the alpha Golden Girl

Mercurie said...

I have to admit that while I knew Bea was in her eighties, I wasn't expecting her death. It seemed as if she should have been immortal. At any rate, she gave us two of television's most memorable characters.