Intimate Portrait

Season 9 Episode 4

Bea Arthur

Aired Monday 7:00 PM Jan 20, 2003 on Lifetime
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Episode Summary

Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur: Brassy & Golden Bea Arthur was born on May 13,1923, in New York City. The awkwardly tall and shy girl often hid behind her wicked sense of humor. Although she longed to be a blond starlet, because of her height she was usually cast as a boy in school plays. After graduating from high school, Arthur enrolled in drama school, where she discovered that being 5'9'' and having a deep voice were assets in classical theater. Unfortunately, Broadway wasn't biting, so the ambitious actress decided to switch gears and try comedy. In 1953, she was cast as Lucy Brown in "The Threepenny Opera," the first of her well-received funny-woman roles. That same year, Arthur married theater director Gene Saks. The hardworking couple started a family — Matthew was born in 1961 and Daniel in 1964 — but Arthur soon returned to Broadway to play second banana Vera Charles in the Broadway musical "Mame," which was directed by her husband. Arthur's stellar singing and comic timing earned her a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress. Soon, television came knocking. Arthur's friend, fabled producer Norman Lear, invited her to guest-star as Edith Bunker's cousin, Maude Findlay, on the hit show "All in the Family." Arthur's dazzling portrayal led to the creation of the series "Maude" in 1972. During its seven-year run, the hit comedy show tackled difficult issues, such as alcoholism and abortion, with sensitivity and humor. Arthur won an Emmy Award in 1977 for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. But in 1979, Arthur called it quits on "Maude" and her marriage. She kept a low profile until 1985, when she was invited to star as the outspoken and sarcastic divorcée Dorothy Zbornak on the sitcom "The Golden Girls."She joined her former "Maude" co-star Rue McClanahan as well as actresses Betty White and Estelle Getty. The show about four older women still going strong was a hit for seven years, earning Arthur her second Emmy, in 1988, for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1992, Arthur again decided to leave a blockbuster show at its peak. She took some time off, until she was eventually coaxed back to the stage for the autobiographical one-woman show "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends." The hilarious musical revue evolved into a 23-city tour that ended in April 2002. Arthur has since returned to her other passion: animals. She does extensive charity work on behalf of organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Great news for us and especially Bea fans in California! Bea is continuing into 2004 with a special one time only show for a gala event for the South Bay Conservatory's Student Scholarship Fund. Read more at the following two sitesmoreless

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