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Beatrice Arthur
Bea Arthur 2005.jpg
Arthur in 2005
Bernice Frankel

(1922-05-13)May 13, 1922
New York City
Died April 25, 2009(2009-04-25) (aged 86)
Cause of death Cancer of unknown primary origin
Occupation Actress
Years active 1947 – 2008
Notable work
Vera Charles, Mame
Maude Findlay, Maude
Dorothy Zbornak, The Golden Girls
Spouse(s) Robert Alan Arthur
(1948; divorced),
Gene Saks
(1950 – 1980; divorced)
Children Adopted:
Daniel Arthur
Matthew Arthur
Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1977 Maude
1988 The Golden Girls
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical
1966 Mame

Beatrice Arthur (born Bernice Frankel; May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American actress and comedian. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Arthur began her career on stage in 1947, attracting critical acclaim before achieving worldwide recognition for her work on television beginning in the 1970s as Maude Findlay in the popular sitcoms All in the Family (1971–1972) and Maude (1972–1978) and later in the 1980s and 1990s as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls (1985–1992).

Arthur won several awards throughout her career, beginning with the 1966 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for playing Vera Charles in Mame. She won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1977 for Maude and 1988 for The Golden Girls. Arthur has received the third most nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series with nine; only Julia Louis-Dreyfus (11) and Mary Tyler Moore (10) have more. She was inducted into the academy's Television Hall of Fame in 2008.

Her film appearances include Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) and the film version of Mame (1974). In 2002, she starred in the one-woman show Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends. An obituary described Arthur as "the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star."

Early life, family, education and military service

Bernice Frankel was born on May 13, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, to Rebecca (née Pressner, born in Austria) and Philip Frankel (born in Poland). Arthur was raised in a Jewish home with her older sister Gertrude and younger sister Marian (1926–2014).

In 1933, the Frankel family relocated to Cambridge, Maryland, where her parents subsequently operated a women's clothing shop. At age 16, Bernice developed a serious condition, coagulopathy, in which her blood would not clot. Concerned for her health, her parents sent her to Linden Hall, an all-girls' boarding school in Lititz, Pennsylvania, for her final two years of high school. Afterwards, she studied for a year at Blackstone College for Girls in Blackstone, Virginia.

During World War II, Frankel enlisted as one of the first members of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve in 1943. After basic training, she served as a typist at Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C. In June 1943, the Marine Corps accepted her transfer request to the Motor Transport School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Frankel then worked as a truck driver and dispatcher in Cherry Point, North Carolina, between 1944 and 1945. She was honorably discharged at the rank of staff sergeant in September 1945.

After serving in the Marines, Frankel studied for a year at the Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia, where she became a licensed medical technician. After interning at a local hospital for the summer, she decided against working as a lab technician, departing for New York City in 1947 to enroll in the School of Drama at The New School.

Personal life

Arthur was married twice. Her first marriage took place in 1944, during her time in the military when she wed fellow Marine Robert Alan Aurthur, later a screenwriter, television, and film producer and director. They divorced three years later, but she kept his surname, with the spelling adjusted to Arthur. Shortly after they divorced in 1950, she married director Gene Saks with whom she adopted two sons, Matthew, an actor, and Daniel, a set designer. She and Saks remained married until 1978.

Death and legacy

Arthur died of lung cancer at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles on April 25, 2009, aged 86.

On April 28, 2009, the Broadway community paid tribute to Arthur by dimming the marquees of New York City's Broadway theater district in her memory for one minute at 8:00 p.m. On September 16, 2009, a public tribute to Arthur was held at the Majestic Theatre in Manhattan, where friends and colleagues including Angela Lansbury, Norman Lear, Rosie O'Donnell and Rue McClanahan paid tribute to the actress.

Arthur bequeathed $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center, a New York City organization that provides housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youths. The center was heavily damaged in October 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, but has since been restored and re-opened. The Bea Arthur Residence, which opened in 2017, is an 18-bed residence in Manhattan for homeless LGBT youth operated by the Ali Forney Center.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bea Arthur para niños

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