And then there’s Bea

By |2017-10-31T06:37:03-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

For many of us, she’ll always be Dorothy Zbornak. But for the naive and young, it’s important to note that the career of Bea Arthur did not begin with “Golden Girls.”
Her big break came way back in 1964. Night after night, in her supporting role as Yente the Matchmaker, she stole the show of the original Broadway of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Two years later she won a Tony for her feature role of Vera Charles in the Broadway musical “Mame,” which was directed by her second husband, Gene Saks.
Of course, for the TV junkies out there, Arthur’s real debut was made in 1971, when she appeared as Edith Bunker’s cousin Maude Findlay in “All in the Family.” Soon, series creator Norman Lear had developed a spin-off for her, and the show “Maude” was born. It ran for six years and after three nominations, she finally won her first Emmy for the show on her fourth try. The show was not only hugely successful but also highly controversial as the liberal Maude dealt with such heavy topics as racism and abortion.
After six years, Arthur felt that “Maude” had run its creative course and announced she was leaving the show, effectively forcing its cancellation. In 1983, she starred in a new sitcom called “Amanda’s.” An American version of the British hit “Fawlty Towers,” the show didn’t connect with the public and only lasted one season.
Two years later though, Bea was back on television. Much like “Maude,” “Golden Girls” was revolutionary. It showed how fun and feisty four senior citizens could be and was an instant hit with fans of all ages. The show ran for seven seasons, during which time all four leading ladies won Emmy awards. As with “Maude,” the show was canceled when Arthur announced she was leaving. But more than a decade after if left the air, the show remains in syndication and has become a cult classic.
As for Arthur, well, she’s still going strong at 81. She’s done occasional film and theatre projects since leaving “Golden Girls.” She’s an avid supporter of gay rights and animal rights and is involved in several AIDS charities. In 2001, she created a one-woman show and took it on the road, stopping for two months on Broadway in 2002. While she continues to do dates sporadically, such as her April 19 stopover at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, the show’s soundtrack is available for sale at And for you “Golden Girls” fanatics out there, well, season two goes on sale May 17.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.