Beatrice Arthur

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Beatrice Arthur (1922-2009) declares her higher ideals for television: "I was bringing my theater training to television. I remember somebody said— and it's true— that I was trying to turn sitcom into an art form." Arthur won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for her portrayal of "Maude Findlay" on Maude and as "Dorothy Zbornak" on The Golden Girls. In her over two-hour Archive interview, Arthur relates the origins of her stage name and looks back on her theater training at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She recounts being cast by Norman Lear on television's The George Gobel Show, and notes other television appearances she made at this time, such as on the now-classic Your Show of Shows. On her stage work, Arthur fondly points to "Mame" as a highlight (for which she won the Tony Award, followed up with a repeat performance in the film version— that was for her, a disappointment). She relates how she appeared as Edith Bunker's liberal cousin "Maude" on All in the Family, a guest-starring role for which she made such an impression, that the network ordered the spin-off, Maude. She discusses how Maude, in addition to offering over-the-top comedy set-ups, took on a number of controversial subjects— including abortion, psychoanalysis, and plastic surgery. Having never watched the series when it was running, Arthur mentions her reaction to catching episodes of Maude on early morning television, many years later. She then speaks briefly about her next series, Amanda's, and acknowledges the show's failure. She enthusiastically describes reading the pilot script of The Golden Girls, considering it "one of the funniest, most adult, hilarious, sophisticated, terrific, delicious things I had ever read." She notes some of her favorite moments from the show and compliments her fellow actors. Finally, she identifies what she feels is her proudest career achievement as well as her biggest regrets, and offers advice on playing comedy. Karen Herman conducted the interview on March 15, 2001 in Brentwood, CA.

"I really feel that I'm an exposed nerve. I don't know how else to say it. But I'm moved by everything."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Beatrice Arthur on being cast as "Yenta" the Matchmaker in the original stage version of "Fiddler on the Roof"
Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit", leading to the spinoff, Maude
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude, "The Convention"
Beatrice Arthur on how she got the role of Dorothy on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on leaving The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on the catchphrase "God'll get you for that" on Maude
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and her interest in theater; on studying acting and her first breaks in theater and working in revues
On her first TV roles, including The George Gobel Show and Caesar's Hour
On her earliest experiences seeing television, and on her early interest in acting on it; on appearing on various series including Omnibus and The Steve Allen Show; on not having an agent until later in her career

Chapter 2

On her theatre work in "Ulysses in Nighttown", "Fiddler on the Roof", and "Mame"; on her limited work in film and briefly on her appearance on The Star Wars Christmas Special; on her political views before Maude
On getting cast as "Cousin Maude" on All in the Family; on the production of Maude, and on working with Norman Lear; on the character of "Maude Findlay"

Chapter 3

on the character of "Maude Findlay"; on the audience response to Maude; on the controversial Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma" and dealing with taboo subjects, and on her favorite Maude episode "The Convention"
On working with Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay," and the rest of the cast of Maude; on the relationship between "Maude" and "Walter" on Maude; on the catchphrase "God'll get you for that" on Maude
On the popularity of Maude, and on the end of the series; on the love that "Maude Findlay" had for her family on Maude, and where she might be in the then-present

Chapter 4

On working on Woody Allen's play "The Floating Lightbulb"; on starring in the ill-fated sitcom Amanda's
On how she got the role of "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls; on how the cast of The Golden Girls came together with her, Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan; on her character, "Dorothy", on The Golden Girls
On working with the cast of The Golden Girls; on Golden Girls episodes, and on being allowed to do more risque humor; on her favorite Golden Girls episode "An Illegitimate Concern" and other episodes
On audience reaction to The Golden Girls; on leaving The Golden Girls; on Empty Nest

Chapter 5

On her work after The Golden Girls, including her stage show "And Then There's Bea"
On celebrity, her achievements, and advice to aspiring performers
On B-roll- photos from year career- on stage with Anthony Franciosa; with Dick Shawn; as "Vera Charles" in "Mame"; as "Vera Charles'' in "Mame"; doing the "Man on the Moon is a Woman" number from "Mame"; with Angela Lansbury in "Mame"; with Lucille Ball in "Mame"; taping Maude
Shows

All in the Family

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Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit", leading to the spinoff, Maude

Amanda's

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Beatrice Arthur on working on various series, including Amanda's, which was based on the British show Fawlty Towers

Beatrice Arthur Special, The

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Beatrice Arthur on starring in The Beatrice Arthur Special featuring Rock Hudson

Caesar's Hour

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Beatrice Arthur on her small roles on Caesar's Hour

Empty Nest

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Beatrice Arthur on Empty Nest

Fawlty Towers

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Beatrice Arthur on working on various series, including Amanda's, which was based on the British show Fawlty Towers

George Gobel Show, The

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Beatrice Arthur on being cast on The George Gobel Show in its last season

Golden Girls, The

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Beatrice Arthur on how she got the role of "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on her character, "Dorothy", on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on working with Estelle Getty and the fun she had with her character on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite Golden Girls episode "An Illegitimate Concern" and other favorite episodes
Beatrice Arthur on leaving The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on how the cast of The Golden Girls came together with her, Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan as "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on working with the producers Tony Thomas and Paul Junger Witt on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on the guest-stars of Maude and The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on Golden Girls episodes, and on being allowed to do more risque humor
Beatrice Arthur on audience reaction to The Golden Girls

Maude

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Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit" leading to the spinoff, Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the production of Maude, and on working with Norman Lear
Beatrice Arthur on playing the character of "Maude Findlay" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude, "The Convention"
Beatrice Arthur on the audience response to Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the controversial Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma" and dealing with taboo subjects
Beatrice Arthur on the Maude episodes "Stitch in Time", "Life of the Party", and "Maude Bares Her Soul"
Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay"
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on working with Adrienne Barbeau as "Carol" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on working with Hermione Baddeley as "Mrs. Naugatuck" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on working with Conrad Bain as "Arthur Harmon" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the relationship between "Maude" and "Walter" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the catchphrase "God'll get you for that" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the popularity of Maude, and on the end of the series
Beatrice Arthur on the love that "Maude Findlay" had for her family on Maude, and where she might be in the then-present
Beatrice Arthur on the Maude episode "The Game Show"
Beatrice Arthur on the guest-stars of Maude and The Golden Girls

Omnibus

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Beatrice Arthur on appearing on various series including Omnibus and The Steve Allen Show

Once Upon a Tune

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Beatrice Arthur on appearing on the 1951 DuMont show, Once Upon a Tune

Saturday Night Live

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Beatrice Arthur on regretting guest hosting on Saturday Night Live (airdate: November 17, 1979)

Seven Lively Arts, The

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Beatrice Arthur on appearing on The Seven Lively Arts

Star Wars Holiday Special, The

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Beatrice Arthur on guest starring on The Star Wars Holiday Special (Ms. Arthur speaks of The Star Wars Holiday Special, though the interviewer asks her about appearing in Star Trek, which she never did)

Steve Allen Show, The (1956-61)

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Beatrice Arthur on appearing on various series including Omnibus and The Steve Allen Show
Topics

Advice

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Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors

Characters & Catchphrases

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Beatrice Arthur on playing the character of "Maude Findlay" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on "Maude's" catchphrase: "God will get you for that!"

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Beatrice Arthur on the performers who inspired her

Fame and Celebrity

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Beatrice Arthur on fame and celebrity

Hollywood Blacklist

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Beatrice Arthur on her awareness of the Hollywood Blacklist, and on her politics

Industry Crossroads

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Beatrice Arthur on her awareness of the Hollywood Blacklist, and on her politics

Pivotal Career Moments

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Beatrice Arthur on the performers who inspired her

Pop Culture

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Beatrice Arthur on playing the character of "Maude Findlay" on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on "Maude's" catchphrase: "God will get you for that!"
Beatrice Arthur on fame and celebrity

Television Industry

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Beatrice Arthur on not having an agent until later in her career
Beatrice Arthur on her awareness of the Hollywood Blacklist, and on her politics
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
Beatrice Arthur on how television changed over her career
Professions

Actress

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Beatrice Arthur on finding her comedic voice
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors

Performers

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Beatrice Arthur on finding her comedic voice
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Comedy Series

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Beatrice Arthur on playing "Maude Findlay" on All in the Family and Maude
Beatrice Arthur on starring on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on playing "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on Empty Nest
Beatrice Arthur on how television changed through her career
People

Woody Allen

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Beatrice Arthur on starring in Woody Allen's play "The Floating Lightbulb"

Hermione Baddeley

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Hermione Baddeley as "Mrs. Naugatuck" on Maude

Lucille Ball

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Beatrice Arthur on her opinion that Lucille Ball should not have done "Mame"

Adrienne Barbeau

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Adrienne Barbeau as "Carol" on Maude

Sid Caesar

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Beatrice Arthur on her small roles on Caesar's Hour

Hal Cooper

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Beatrice Arthur on Maude director Hal Cooper

Herb Edelman

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Herb Edelman as "Stan" on The Golden Girls

Estelle Getty

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls

Norman Lear

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Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear casting her on The George Gobel Show
Beatrice Arthur on Maude read-throughs with Norman Lear
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's response when she didn't like a Maude script
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's taboo-breaking work

Bill Macy

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay" on Maude

Rue McClanahan

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Rue McClanahan
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan as "Blanche Devereaux" on The Golden Girls

Esther Rolle

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude

Elliot Schoenman

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Beatrice Arthur on Amanda's, produced by Elliot Schoenman

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