A native New Yorker best known for her roles in the highly successful television series Maude and The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur had already made her mark on Broadway, beginning with the role of Lucy Brown in the 1954 revival of Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. She later appeared as Madame Suze in Seventh Heaven and starred as the Yente in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1964.
In 1966, Arthur won a Tony® for her portrayal of Vera Charles in Mame, playing opposite Angela Lansbury. She reprised the role in the 1974 film version that starred Lucille Ball.
Stanley Kauffman in his New York Times review of the Broadway production described Arthur as a “crackerjack professional.” He continues, “Beatrice Arthur plays a sodden stage star, the bosom pal of Mame and a viper in her bosom. Miss Arthur gives a caustic musical-comedy performance that is fluent in skill and superb in timing.”
After a career lasting seven decades, Bea Arthur died of cancer on April 25, 2009.
Photo courtesy of The Everett Collection