Remembering Bea Arthur

Gay icon, statuesque comedienne, expert of the droll comeback: Bea Arthur didn’t just stand above her peers, she was the tent pole of a whole generation of comedy. Arthur died Saturday, peacefully in her sleep, according to a family spokesperson. For gays and lesbians, Arthur leaves behind a legacy as a beloved icon, perhaps best remembered as Dorothy on The Golden Girls, the acerbic and stoic schoolteacher who cared for her elderly mother with the help of her close friends. Here are some of our favorites moments of Bea. We hope you’ll share your own memories of Bea in the comments.

Remember the 70’s, Bea-style.

Bea Arthur as Carrie Bradshaw. Two icons for the price of one!

Bea in the world’s most awful TV movie ever– The Star Wars Holiday Special!

Bea with Angela Lansbury singing “Bosum Buddies” from Mame.

Bea with her real-life adopted son, Matthew Saks (he’s the shorter one) on The Golden Girls.

Bea, thanks for the memories.

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  • The Gay Numbers

    If I were straight, she’d have been the type of woman I would want to marry- tough, smart and funny.

  • sal

    thank u 4 being a friend!!put a smile on my face every time i came home from school.i know im not alone when i say you were a gem

  • Dennis

    God’ll get you for that, Walter….

  • luciferosirisarnold

    I will miss seeing her. Back to the re-runs.

  • Brandon

    I loved her. There is one more well-hung angel in heaven

  • Kyle

    this ruined my weekend. she will be missed.

  • Bruno

    It’s pretty funny to think she’ll be remembered most (rightly so) for The Golden Girls. Because she was very very closely tied to the Maude character throughout the 70’s and early 80’s.

  • Geoff

    Icons like her aren’t going to be around forever, she was part of a magical entertainment generation.

  • David

    I loved Bea, it’s so sad that she is gone! She has made me laugh so many times. One of my favorite Bea moments from the Golden Girls is when Dorothy is trying to talk some sense into the father of a pregnant teen and she tells him one of Roses stories!

    Here’s a link:

  • J. Clarence

    She was such a great icon and will be missed. I’m glad to hear that she died peacefully.

    I remember coming home and watching the Golden Girls everyday with my grandmother, and Bea’s character was my absolute favorite. What a Golden Girl she was.

  • Tim

    I grew up watching the Golden Girls on lifetime. My grandma and I would watch it when I came home from school and anytime I was sick. I still watch it as I fall asleep at night. Bea will be missed, as will Estelle, who passed away not even a year ago. Rest in Peace. Thanks for all the memories. Thank you for being a friend.

  • geoff

    Whole it’s always sad and heartbreaking to lose someone who gave us so much joy and so many laughs, at least we can take some comfort that she lived such a fantastic life and was loved by so many and that she went peacefully with no pain or fear. Thanks to reruns and DVDs she’ll live on forever and make us laugh for many years to come. Bea, you’re sorely missed already but will never be forgotten. Rest well.

  • geoff

    Oh.shit! I meant while not whole. Sorry. Bea, we love you.

  • Kieran

    Thank you for being a friend…

  • DavidMichael

    Wow what a talent, thanks Queerty for the memories.

  • rickroberts

    Darling. She is among my favorite women … right there with Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Julia Child, and Lucy.

  • Helga Von Ornstein

    Two “girls” got on the train at 14th street talking about this. When I asked in absolutely shock if it was true they both said yes. We shared memories of her till 42nd street.

    By 59th street I was misty eyed. When I got off at 125th street tears were streaming down when I thought about how many friends (including her) I really wished were still here to call share the memories.

    Thanks for the memories Maude. I loved how you brightened up my very unhappy childhood back in the 1970’s. Please say hello to Ethel, Fred and Lucy for me. I know you all are smiling down on us.

  • jason

    Bea had that camp sensibility that is usually associated with gay men. She was effectively one of us.

  • The Lesbian Mafia

    Knew I could count on Queerty to acknowledge the profound loss of a good friend to our community.

    I’ve enjoyed watching her all my life, and her life and career has been a great inspiration to me and countless others. One of the last of the class-acts, she will be greatly missed.

  • John Santos

    A brilliant comedienne whose talent will be hard to match. She will be missed so very much.

  • Lance Rockland

    I love you Bea!

    You will never be forgotten. RIP sweet lady.

  • RichardR

    My tears come as I watch the clip with Angela Lansbury. Seeing the two of them in “Mame” when I was a very young man was simply one of the great theater experiences. And this particular song, campy as it is, so well characterizes a real friendship. Bea, you were a bosom buddy.

  • rogue dandelion

    I credit my mother’s fascination with golden girls with during my formative years with a lot- Thanks bea, for being a friend when a little boy had none.

  • marc

    I will miss her comedic genius!
    This makes my heart a bit heavy today.

  • Phoenix (Armed and Fabulous, Darling!)

    Goodbye Pussycat! RIP.

    Maude and Dorothy Zbornak were my role models. I wanted to grow up to be just like those women….only as a guy.

  • Queerky

    We all have to go one day. But how many us will go peacefully, at a ripe age, with all the world sad to see us leave? I have to rejoice for her:she deserved a happy ending.

  • vernonvanderbilt

    I really only know her from her work on Golden Girls but she was definitely a childhood favourite of mine. I’ll have to agree with Gay numbers: if I ever wanted a woman, I’d want a woman like Bea. She will be sorely missed.

  • Sarah R.

    Right on, Bea. As Maude or Dorothy, you meant a lot to me and you will be dearly missed. You were fantastic.

  • Coup

    Amazingly versatile, incredible that half the fans here barely know Maude even existed, she went peacefully in her sleep, but to most of us she would have wished what most of us probably would prefer: “Death by Snu-Snu !!”

  • Thank you, Dorothy

    You were a friend to all the Dorothies who never fitted in, were not the right size, the right height, never the right anything. You Bea, made us feel like we had you as a friend. You laughed at adversity, moved forward with your sheer talent, and said a big fuck you to all the nay sayers. Thank you, friend, for showing us the way to step with your best feet forward and ignore the unimportant rest. I never cried after the passing of anybody but my family members, but I can’t stop tearing up at your passing. Is it because we gays thought of you as family?

  • Thomas

    Well I feel old. Here I remember watching the Golden Girls in Prime Time! Always laughed my ass off. I still sit mindlessly watching it today and I am sure I have seen every episode 5 times. I stiff laugh!

    Now that I am older, I get Maude. It too is a great performance and I wish it was in reruns.

    What a Character.


  • Helga Von Ornstein

    @Coup: You are close. Sadly what her passing has reminded me of is just how many of my friends have passed on (you know why) that would have remembered her as Maude. I suspected that when Maude did not last on TvLand a few years back.

    It was the same why when Jack Wrangler died. So few were left to remember. We are coming up on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and Gay Pride parade with well over half of those in attendance not knowing that started as a march, not a parade.

  • Chitown Kev


    Yeah, the Golden Girls every Saturday night at 9, either I was roo young to go out or I would watch it before I go out OR if I went out early enough, I could make to the bar in enough time to see the latest episode.

    Bea Arthur, R.I.P.

  • Michael vdB

    Maude…we shall miss you. RIP.

  • rich

    First Estelle and now Bea, all thats left is Rue and the amazing Betty White… its a sad day…

  • bobito

    I remember when I was a kid, the Catholic Church denounced Maude (after the episode in which she terminated an unplanned pregnancy – this was shortly after Roe vs. Wade) Amazing how ahead of its time that show was. It would still be controversial today, sadly. RIP Bea Arthur – you were a beacon of liberal thought in the early childhood of this homo, who grew up in a narrow-minded, midwestern white ghetto. “Thank you for being a friend”, indeed.

  • dvlaries

    Arthur never forgot the oldest rule of show business: “Always leave them wanting more.” Both “Maude” and especially “Golden Girls” were still fresh and could have run longer, but Bea knew to bow out while viewer loyalty was high. Carol Burnette followed the same rule, and so did Mary Tyler Moore.

    By contrast, consider the off-the-rails direction of the last season or two of “Roseanne,” or the beyond-exhaustion state of “Murphy Brown.”

  • Jayson

    “I’m devastated…just devastated”

  • jbw

    Hers was the confidence, wit, and strength that we all wanted for ourselves, and she did it all while maintaining a fierce, unquestionable affection for those she loved.

    She will be so dearly missed.

    We stand on her shoulders and remember the moments of our lives when she was there, relating to many of us on levels we hadn’t yet quite understood for ourselves.

    One of the things I loved about her was her gracious spirit, and her understanding and respect for the women who went before her and paved the way. Here’s a clip that’s not very well known — it’s from the Kennedy Center Honors where Bea, along with Pam Dawber and Valerie Harper, honors Lucille Ball. Bea comes in right about the 2:00 mark, but the whole thing’s worth a watch.

  • Nomad

    Bea Arthur looked kinda like Catherine Zeta Jones when she was younger

  • atdleft

    Damn. I miss her. I remember watching “The Golden Girls” on Lifetime wishing I could have grandparents like them. I’ll have to remember to lift my cheesecake in honor of Bea tonight. She was a true friend & queer icon before Britney & Beyonce were even in diapers and before Madonna even started experimenting with singing while wearing a cone bra.

    Damn, I miss Bea.

  • Cee

    Love you Dorothy!

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