Beatrice Arthur with Emerson College

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In her one-hour-plus interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Beatrice Arthur talks about her interest in theater when she was living in Cambridge, MA. She recalls attending the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and then going to drama school in New York. She describes working with a vocal coach, getting a job at Tamiment, and working with comedians Red Skelton and later, Larry David. She then speaks of her Broadway performances, her television performances in the 1950s, and of lessons she learned from the people she worked with. She tells of moving from New York to California and originating the character "Maude" on All in the Family, and discusses how she was cast on and enjoyed the writing on The Golden Girls. Arthur also recounts her time at the Actors Studio and shares what she learned from legends Lee Strasberg and Sid Caesar. She describes tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude, and comments on her public persona and private life. She concludes with remarks on the longevity of her career, on her advocacy, and on advice to an aspiring performer. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on May 31, 2005 in Brentwood, CA.

"When it stops being fun, then you don't do it."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear creating a part for her --"Maude" on All in the Family -- and getting a spin-off, Maude
Beatrice Arthur on tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude; on mail she received after the abortion storyline on the show
Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Sid Caesar
Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her interest in theater when she was living in Cambridge, MA -- doing impressions of Mae West and performing in minstrel shows; on attending the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and then going to drama school in New York; on working with a vocal coach, getting a job at Tamiment, and working with Red Skelton and Larry David
On her Broadway performances; on her television performances in the 1950s and learning from the people she worked with; on moving from New York to California; on originating the character "Maude" on All in the Family; on how she was cast on The Golden Girls and the writing on the show
On the longevity of her acting jobs; on the television production schedule and comedy taking a lot out of performers; on attending the Actors Studio and lessons she learned there; on learning from Lee Strasberg and Sid Caesar
On Yarmy's Army and Howard Morris' death; on tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude; on mail she received after the abortion storyline on the show; on her public persona and private life; on Tallulah Bankhead's perspective on homosexuality; on her huge gay following; on the longevity of her career and continuing to perform in Atlantic City; on advocating for the ethical treatment of animals and lending her name to causes; on whether everything was worth it; on advice to an aspiring performer
Shows

All in the Family

View Show Page
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear creating a part for her --"Maude" on All in the Family -- and getting a spin-off, Maude

Curb Your Enthusiasm

View Show Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Golden Girls, The

View Show Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on democratizing The Golden Girls and speaking up when something didn't feel right in a scene
Beatrice Arthur on how real the characters on The Golden Girls seemed, and how great the "Dorothy" and "Sophia" relationship was
Beatrice Arthur on casting The Golden Girls, the professionalism of the actors, and the great writers and directors
Beatrice Arthur on the writing on The Golden Girls

Maude

View Show Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude; on mail she received after the abortion storyline on the show
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television

Fame and Celebrity

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on her public persona and private life
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television

LGBTQ

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television

Pop Culture

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on her public persona and private life
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following

Television Industry

View Topic
Beatrice Arthur on not getting an agent until she got Maude
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Beatrice Arthur on her time at the Actors Studio and lessons she learned there and from others she worked with

Comedian

View Profession
Beatrice Arthur on comedy devices and originality in comedy

Performers

View Profession
Beatrice Arthur on comedy devices and originality in comedy
Beatrice Arthur on the craft of performance
Beatrice Arthur on her time at the Actors Studio and lessons she learned there
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear creating a part for her, --"Maude" on All in the Family and getting a spin-off, Maude
Beatrice Arthur on the actors, casting, and writing on The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur on tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude; on mail she received after the abortion storyline on the show
People

Larry Auerbach

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on how she was cast on The Golden Girls and the pilot being written for "a Bea Arthur type"

Tallulah Bankhead

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on Tallulah Bankhead's perspective on homosexuality

Sid Caesar

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on creating characters and learning from Sid Caesar
Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Sid Caesar

Hal Cooper

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on Hal Cooper's take on humor and whether you can be taught humor

Bill Dana

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls

Larry David

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Susan Harris

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on the writing on The Golden Girls

Moss Hart

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on Moss Hart's memoir, Act One: An Autobiography

Norman Lear

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear wanting her to come to Los Angeles to work on shows he was writing for
Beatrice Arthur on tackling social issues like abortion and death through the guise of laughter in Norman Lear's shows -- particularly on Maude; on mail she received after the abortion storyline on the show

Rue McClanahan

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude

Howard Morris

View Interview Page
Beatrice Arthur on Yarmy's Army and Howard Morris' death

Red Skelton

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on working with Red Skelton and using comedy devices

Lee Strasberg

View Person Page
Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio and from others she worked with

All Interviews

S