Saturday, April 25, 2009

RIP Bea Arthur

With thanks from the tall girls who, instead of going out for the basketball team, auditioned for the choir and stood shoulder to shoulder on the back row, belting out the alto line of "The Impossible Dream" with visions of you dancing in their heads.

With admiration from the pretty boys who couldn't help loving a genetic woman who really ought to be played by Harvey Fierstein in the biopic.

With gratitude from every golden person who ever sat alone in front of the TV laughing with delight at the wit, wisdom, and deep kindness of Dorothy Zbornak and her feisty pals.

Thanks for walking tall, singing loud, speaking out, going gray, taking up space, and offering the world an advanced seminar in the semiotics of eyebrows. We needed it. We needed you. You will be missed.

New York Times obit is here. Money quote? In response to a reporter's suggestion that her character on Golden Girls bore more than a faint resemblance to her path-breaking title character on Maude, Arthur said:
Look -- I'm 5-feet-9, I have a deep voice and I have a way with a line. What can I do about it? I can't stay home waiting for something different. I think it's a total waste of energy worrying about typecasting.
In high school, according to the Times, she was shy about her height but overcame it "by winning over her classmates with wisecracks. She was elected the wittiest girl in her class."

Ms. Arthur, my typist loves you with all her big and tall and sometimes witty girl's heart. Dogspeed.

And because you always felt like something of a bosom buddy, we'll send you off with this song from Mame (for which you won a Tony). Here is Arthur with Angela Lansbury. Wait for the 3-minute mark, when the two golden gals of the theater shimmy across the stage together for the big finish:

Sentimental Bonus Track: Arthur as Dorothy on The Golden Girls, singing "What'll I Do?" It's lovely and a little bit funny, as only Arthur could be:


  1. Oh my. We are certainly all the better, much, MUCH better for Bea Arthur's having lived and been part of our lives. She's part of our cultural imaginary.

    And Rox--that vid of the performance with Angela Lansbury just knocked my socks off. WOW!

  2. :( I am so sad to lose another funny lady. Thanks Roxie.

  3. That Mame performance is FABULOUS! She had some good hip action with those bumps there.

  4. Oh, Dorothy at the Rusty Anchor!


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