Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bea Arthur Dies at 86

LOS ANGELES, CA (Observer Update) - Beatrice Arthur, the tough-talking, bawdy character actress who starred in the classic TV sitcoms Maude and The Golden Girls, died Saturday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 86.

Arthur had been battling cancer and had largely dropped out if the spotlight in recent years, with the exception of the occasional appearance at awards shows and Comedy Central roasts. In recent years, she spoofed Sex & the City, playing Carrie Bradshaw in a TV Land spoof. She also appeared as Larry David's mother of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Broadway actress rose to stardom on television as the title character in Maude, Norman Lear’s controversial All in the Family spinoff that featured, among other’s things, television’s first abortion storyline. Maude was a liberal, outspoken, politically vocal woman in her late 40s, early 50s through much of the ’70s, a first for TV at that time.

Arthur went on to star for seven seasons as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls, a show that tackled many a plot line and was a pioneering program for women of a certain age on television. With the help of Betty White, Rue McClanahan and the late Estelle Getty, Arthur has provided hours upon hours of laughs in reruns on Lifetime and The Hallmark Channel, reported.

Arthur picked up an Emmy for each of those shows – and a Tony for her work with Angela Lansbury in Broadway’s Mame. She was again nominated for a Tony in 2003 for her one woman show, Bea Arthur on Broadway. She lost to fellow acid-tongued comedienne Elaine Stritch.

"I knew it would hurt, I just didn't know it would hurt this much,” White told Entertainment Weekly in a statement. “I'm so happy that she received her Lifetime Achievement Award while she was still with us, so she could appreciate that. She was such a big part of my life."

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