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. Lastly, 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."

Highlights
Beatrice Arthur on how she was perceived as a feminist after Maude
00:47
Beatrice Arthur on her first big break in theater and finding her comic voice
03:07
Beatrice Arthur on feeling she's an "exposed nerve"
00:40
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude, "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
01:42
Beatrice Arthur on how she got the role of "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls
01:19
Beatrice Arthur on how she would like to be remembered
00:16
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and her interest in theater
05:00
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
06:07

Chapter 2

On her theatre work in Ulysses in Nighttown, Fiddler on the Roof and Mame
06:06
On her limited work in film and briefly on her appearance on The Star Wars Christmas Special
04:24
On her political views before Maude and her breakthrough appearance on All in the Family
01:41
On getting cast as "Cousin Maude" on All in the Family and how that led to the spin-off, Maude
03:34
On working on Maude
03:53
On the character of "Maude Findlay"
07:43

Chapter 3

On the character of "Maude" and working with the cast of Maude
01:43
On the professional history of the cast of Maude
00:43
On the fan mail she got during Maude
00:46
On Norman Lear's taboo-breaking work
01:11
On some memorable episodes of Maude
07:46
On working with Maude co-star Bill Macy
02:35
On working with Maude co-stars Rue McClanahan, Adrienne Barbeau, and Esther Rolle
04:40
On her "Maude" catchphrase; on the relationship of "Maude" and "Walter"; on the end of Maude
02:00
On Maude's going off the air and her dislike of reunion shows
01:42
On starring in a special after Maude left the air
01:00

Chapter 4

On working on Woody Allen's play "The Floating Lightbulb"; on starring in the ill-fated sitcom Amanda's
05:49
On working with the cast and producers of The Golden Girls
10:26
On some episodes of The Golden Girls; on leaving the series
10:20

Chapter 5

On her work after The Golden Girls, including her stage show "And Then There's Bea"
05:26
On celebrity, her achievements, and advice to aspiring performers
10:22
B-roll - a few photos from her collection (most from "Mame")
02:30
Shows

All in the Family

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Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit" (airdate: December 11, 1971), leading to the spinoff, Maude
02:54

Amanda's

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Beatrice Arthur on her ill-fated sitcom Amanda's
02:52

Beatrice Arthur Special, The

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Beatrice Arthur on starring in The Beatrice Arthur Special after Maude left the air
01:00

Caesar's Hour

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Beatrice Arthur on her small roles on Caesar's Hour
02:38

Fawlty Towers

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Beatrice Arthur on her ill-fated sitcom Amanda's, which was based on the British show Fawlty Towers
02:52

George Gobel Show, The

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Beatrice Arthur on being cast on The George Gobel Show in its last season
01:23

Golden Girls, The

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Beatrice Arthur on how she got the role of "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls
01:19
Beatrice Arthur on her character, "Dorothy," on The Golden Girls
01:18
Beatrice Arthur on working with Estelle Getty and the fun she had with her character on The Golden Girls
02:31
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite Golden Girls episode (with Sonny & Cher parody) "An Illegitimate Concern" (airdate: February 12, 1990)
00:57
Beatrice Arthur on leaving The Golden Girls
01:13

Maude

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Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit" (airdate: December 11, 1971), leading to the spinoff, Maude
02:54
Beatrice Arthur on the production of Maude
03:52
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
08:03
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
01:43
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude , "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
01:42
Beatrice Arthur on the Maude episode "The Game Show" (airdate: November 8, 1976)
00:43

Once Upon a Tune

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Beatrice Arthur on appearing on the 1951 DuMont show, Once Upon a Tune
00:28

Saturday Night Live

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Beatrice Arthur on regretting guest hosting on Saturday Night Live (airdate: November 17, 1979)
00:30

Star Wars Holiday Special, The

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Beatrice Arthur on guest starring on The Star Wars Holiday Special
00:51
Topics

Advice

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Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
02:16

Characters & Catchphrases

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Beatrice Arthur on "Maude's" catchphrase: "God will get you for that!"
00:25

Fame and Celebrity

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Beatrice Arthur on fame and celebrity
01:26

Pop Culture

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Beatrice Arthur on "Maude's" catchphrase: "God will get you for that!"
00:25
Beatrice Arthur on fame and celebrity
01:26

Television Industry

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Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
02:16
Professions

Actress

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Beatrice Arthur on finding her comedic voice
03:07
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom (The Golden Girls )
01:34
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
02:16

Performers

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Beatrice Arthur on finding her comedic voice
03:07
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom (The Golden Girls )
01:34
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
02:16
Genres

Comedy Series

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Beatrice Arthur on the changing landscape of female characters in sitcoms
02:14
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's taboo-breaking work
01:11
Beatrice Arthur on how every sitcom eventually does a game show episode
00:43
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom (The Golden Girls )
01:34
Beatrice Arthur on how television changed through her career
02:10
People

Woody Allen

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Beatrice Arthur on starring in Woody Allen's play "The Floating Lightbulb"
01:15

Hermione Baddeley

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Hermione Baddeley
00:20

Lucille Ball

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Beatrice Arthur on her opinion that Lucille Ball should not have done "Mame"
01:36

Adrienne Barbeau

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Adrienne Barbeau
00:56

Sid Caesar

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Beatrice Arthur on her small roles on Caesar's Hour
01:28

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
01:08

Estelle Getty

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls
02:31

Susan Harris

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Beatrice Arthur on Golden Girls creator Susan Harris
00:36

Norman Lear

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Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear casting her on The George Gobel Show
01:23
Beatrice Arthur on Maude read-throughs
01:30
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's response when she didn't like a Maude script
01:19
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's taboo-breaking work
01:11

Bill Macy

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Bill Macy
02:35

Rue McClanahan

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Rue McClanahan
01:22
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls
00:49

Burgess Meredith

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Beatrice Arthur on Burgess Meredith directing Ulysses in Nighttown
00:23

Esther Rolle

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Esther Rolle
01:25

Elliot Schoenman

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Beatrice Arthur on Amanda's, produced by Elliot Schoenman
02:52

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