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Bea Arthur dead at 86

Bea Arthur has died at the age of 86 from complications of cancer. Arthur, a Hollywood legend, was known to millions from her genre-busting role on Maude and — most famously — The Golden Girls.

Bea Arthur in a still from Golden GirlsArthur should be best known for raising woman’s profile in the entertainment-world consciousness as few had before her. She was the first character on television to have an abortion. It happened on Maude and struck a chord with millions. To this day, the episode remains an envelope-pusher.

It was the ‘70s, sure, but popular culture had failed to completely reflect the societal changes occurring on the ground. It was too risque to talk about the feminist movement. Although shows such as One Day at a Time illustrated that point, few talked about it the way Bea Arthur did as Maude.

To generations, she was the anchor of the hit Golden Girls. As the woman who moves with her mother and girlfriends into a Florida home, Arthur was the straight-laced foil for the impeccable comic timing of her co-stars. The actress often provided the heart of the show, and always, the mind. 

Throughout her career, Arthur continued to show why she was an entertainment one-in-a-million.

She got her start on the stage and quickly became known as an actress capable of great arcs of emotion. Her voice was unique among actresses.Golden Girls co-star Rue McClanahan issued a statement following Arthur’s passing:”Thirty-seven years ago, she showed me how to be very brave in playing comedy,” McClanahan says. “I’ll miss that courage, and I’ll miss that voice.”An Emmy and Tony award winner, Arthur is also a member of the Television Hall of Fame.

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