The downside to doing a weekday blog is that if something big happens on the weekend, a Monday post on it arrives pretty late to the party. So it is with the news that Bea Arthur died in her sleep on Saturday at the age of 86 but hey, she was a remarkable lady, I'm a fan and maybe you'll see a clip here today that wasn't passed to you on Facebook yesterday.
In their obit, wisecracking gossip site Defamer said, "She will be loudly mourned by ." Well of course. As Arthur herself would joke, a 5'10" woman with a deep voice made for a natural gender nonconformist and she was an early and vocal friend of gay rights. She was also the kind of old-school brassy dame, cracking wit and Broadway baby that gay men have always adored. Perhaps too much:
Okay, that image might be a teensy bit over the top but here's a look back at a career that makes a case for it. First, her Broadway career — this relatively recent clip shows how smooth she could be:
And for drag queens, her "Mame" duet with Angela Lansbury is legendary:
I hope people will check out the recently released DVDs of "Maude." Although "The Golden Girls" is the superior sitcom, Maude was an incredible character and a perfect fit for Arthur's whiplash comic timing. She was introduced on "All in the Family" and immediately made a big impression:
She talked about "Maude" with the charming Bob Costas in 1989. If you can get past the tedious opening credits, the interview is Bea Arthur at her classiest:
Her trip to Canada to become the Shopper's Drug Mart spokesperson was not Bea Arthur at her classiest — but she could fly! How cool is that?
She could do it all! Did you know she ran the alien cantina in "Star Wars??" (Okay, it's from the banned-but-bootlegged "Star Wars Holiday Special" in 1978 but still…)
And how about this frankly jawdropping duet with Rock Hudson, singing about doing drugs in the '70s (Rock mentions poppers twice — coincidence?):
For a lady who carried herself with such effortless dignity, Arthur was always ready to humilate herself for a joke, like in this notorious "Sex and the City" parody:
But, like I said, it's "The Golden Girls" that truly made her beloved among just about everyone. Here's a sample:
And when she got be funny and sing? Pure gold:
And for the final clip, I couldn't decide between her musical manifesto on "Maude" or the sweetly silly final moments of the last-ever "Golden Girls" episode — but why choose? Say goodbye to a great lady twice: