Depending on the generation you were born into, Bea Arthur was one of three things. She was either Maude: the tough as nails independent liberal 70’s tv character, Dorothy Zbornak: Part of the mother and daughter pair that made up half of the Golden Girls, or more recently, a mythic figure who was thought to be part icon, part punchline, and the toughest woman in the world.
She was all those things. Born in 1922, she actually earned her college degree in something a little more practical than acting. She earned her degree as a medical laboratory technician. However, one little drama class changed everything and she was bitten by the acting bug.
Her star first rose in the 1960’s when she won tremendous acclaim on Broadway for her roles in Fiddler on the Roof and Mame. In the 70’s her guest role on All in the Family as Edith’s Cousin was so popular that she was soon given the spin-off, Maude, which ran from 1972-1978.
In 1985, she took on the role of Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak and teamed up with Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty to form the Golden Girls for seven years.
After the show ended, Bea went into retirement with the exception of a few small parts that she wanted to do for fun. It was during this time that she also began to battle cancer. Bea Arthur passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday night.
Below check out Bea’s comic timing at its best as she roasts non other than Pamela Anderson. It gets a little salty, so consider it slightly NSFW.