We lost an amazing woman and talent today, the fabulous Bea Arthur. She died peacefully with her family by her side in Los Angeles, she had cancer her family spokesman said.
Arthur first appeared in the landmark comedy series "All in the Family" as Edith Bunker's loudly outspoken, liberal cousin, Maude Finley. She proved a perfect foil for blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), and their blistering exchanges were so entertaining that producer Norman Lear fashioned Arthur's own series.
"Golden Girls" (1985-1992) was another groundbreaking comedy, finding surprising success in a television market increasingly skewed toward a younger, product-buying audience.
The series concerned three retirees — Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan — and the mother of Arthur's character, Estelle Getty, who lived together in a Miami apartment. In contrast to the violent "Miami Vice," the comedy was nicknamed "Miami Nice."
As Dorothy Zbornak, Arthur seemed as caustic and domineering as Maude. She was unconcerned about the similarity of the two roles. "Look — I'm 5-feet-9, I have a deep voice and I have a way with a line," she told an interviewer. "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."
The interplay among the four women and their relations with men fueled the comedy, and the show amassed a big audience and 10 Emmys, including two as best comedy series and individual awards for each of the stars.
In 1992, Arthur announced she was leaving "Golden Girls." The three other stars returned in "The Golden Palace," but it lasted only one season.
Growing up I was totally obsessed with Golden Girls and still love to watch re-runs on Lifetime. My friends and I always dreamed about one day growing old together in a beautiful house in Florida, drinking cocktails and watching our hot young boy in a speedo skim the pool in the backyard. You will be missed Bea!