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Anyone who perused their status updates on Saturday afternoon probably noticed every gay man on their Facebook was grieving the loss of Beatrice Arthur, an actress best known for her TV and Broadway work. Arthur, 86, died on April 25 of cancer at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family. The Tony Award winner was best known for her spot-on comedic timing in “Maude” and “Golden Girls,” and for being an actress who wasn’t your typical Hollywood starlet. She carried that distinctive voice, was built like an amazon and didn’t make her mark until she was in her 50s. She gravitated toward bold and brassy roles – one look from Dorothy, her character on “Golden Girls,” would trigger the giggles – but off-screen close pals have said she was quiet and sensitive. To us, she’ll always be a friend and a confidante who we loved dearly. Read below to find out why.
I can’t think of a specific memory of Bea Arthur, but I do think one of the biggest reasons she appealed so much to our community was that she was like us. She had to work hard to carve her niche because she was somewhat of an anomaly – very tall, deep-voiced and female. She attended an all-girl high school and played the roles of men in theater productions because of her height and deep voice – so in essence, Bea Arthur started out doing drag. I’m so grateful that so much of her career was captured in film and television so we will have that by which to remember her.
– Paul Mattson, Detroit
I’ll remember the fact that in many scenes on ‘Golden Girls’ she appears to be barefoot. Also, the way the room shakes when she says ‘Ma…’. She seemed really warm and smart.
– Sara Widdis, Dearborn
When I think of Bea Arthur, I automatically think of her role as Dorothy Zbornak.
It seems that every person who is a ‘Golden Girls’ fan has at least three friends in their life who also love the show. It was natural and fun, among these friends, to decipher which ‘Golden Girls’ character each friend was. For me, whenever I think of Bea Arthur, I don’t just think of her role on ‘Golden Girls,’ but I think of my closest girlfriends. In that way, she truly became a figure of friendship. So needless to say, we are collectively grieving the loss of such an iconic lady.
– Caity O’ Leary, Kalamazoo
When I was in college, my roommates and I scheduled our classes around ‘Golden Girls,’ which was in syndicate. We all had nicknames as one of the ‘Golden Girls.’ The show was so much about friendship that it was always our bonding time. Whenever I see Bea Arthur or any of the ‘Golden Girls,’ it brings back the memories of my college days. With each of the ‘Golden Girls” passing, it makes me feel a loss. Now I am going to write my roommates to say ‘hi.’
– Jenina ‘Sutton’ Halitsky, Lansing
My fondest memory of Bea Arthur was getting to see her and Angela Lansbury together in ‘Mame’ on Broadway – which must, by now, be forty years ago or more. I know I was in college. The night some friends and I saw it, their ‘Bosom Buddies’ number stopped the show with at least a five-minute ovation. They reprised the number with an encore during the curtain call, and I think we were all singing with them by that point. Then, in later years she and the other three ‘Golden Girls’ filled my life with laughter, joy and lots of fun. She was a great actress and humanitarian. I will miss the old gal!
– George Jonte, Ypsilanti