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."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Beatrice Arthur on how she was perceived as a feminist after Maude
Beatrice Arthur on her first big break in theater and finding her comic voice
Beatrice Arthur on feeling she's an "exposed nerve"
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude, "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
Beatrice Arthur on how she got the role of "Dorothy" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on how she would like to be remembered
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

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 and her breakthrough appearance on All in the Family
On getting cast as "Cousin Maude" on All in the Family and how that led to the spin-off, Maude
On working on Maude
On the character of "Maude Findlay"

Chapter 3

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

Chapter 4

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

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
B-roll - a few photos from her collection (most from "Mame")
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

Amanda's

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Beatrice Arthur on her ill-fated sitcom Amanda's

Beatrice Arthur Special, The

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

Caesar's Hour

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Beatrice Arthur on her small roles on Caesar's Hour

Fawlty Towers

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Beatrice Arthur on her ill-fated sitcom 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 (with Sonny & Cher parody) "An Illegitimate Concern" (airdate: February 12, 1990)
Beatrice Arthur on leaving The Golden Girls

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
Beatrice Arthur on the production of Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude , "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
Beatrice Arthur on the Maude episode "The Game Show" (airdate: November 8, 1976)

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)

Star Wars Holiday Special, The

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Beatrice Arthur on guest starring on The Star Wars Holiday Special
Topics

Advice

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Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors

Characters & Catchphrases

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

Fame and Celebrity

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Beatrice Arthur on fame and celebrity

Pop Culture

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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 her advice to aspiring actors
Professions

Actress

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Beatrice Arthur on finding her comedic voice
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom (The Golden Girls )
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 (The Golden Girls )
Beatrice Arthur on her advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Comedy Series

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Beatrice Arthur on the changing landscape of female characters in sitcoms
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear's taboo-breaking work
Beatrice Arthur on how every sitcom eventually does a game show episode
Beatrice Arthur on acting in a sitcom (The Golden Girls )
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 Maude co-star Hermione Baddeley

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 Maude co-star Adrienne Barbeau

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

Susan Harris

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Beatrice Arthur on Golden Girls creator Susan Harris

Norman Lear

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Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear casting her on The George Gobel Show
Beatrice Arthur on Maude read-throughs
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 Maude co-star Bill Macy

Rue McClanahan

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Rue McClanahan
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on The Golden Girls

Burgess Meredith

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Beatrice Arthur on Burgess Meredith directing Ulysses in Nighttown

Esther Rolle

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Maude co-star Esther Rolle

Elliot Schoenman

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Beatrice Arthur on Amanda's, produced by Elliot Schoenman

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