Beatrice Arthur with Emerson College

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"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
01:41
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
03:25
Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Sid Caesar
00:44
Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls
01:23
Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
04:23
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
00:33
Full Interview

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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

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Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear creating a part for her --"Maude" on All in the Family -- and getting a spin-off, Maude
01:41

Curb Your Enthusiasm

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
04:23

Golden Girls, The

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls
01:23
Beatrice Arthur on democratizing The Golden Girls and speaking up when something didn't feel right in a scene
00:33
Beatrice Arthur on how real the characters on The Golden Girls seemed, and how great the "Dorothy" and "Sophia" relationship was
01:41
Beatrice Arthur on casting The Golden Girls, the professionalism of the actors, and the great writers and directors
03:09
Beatrice Arthur on the writing on The Golden Girls
00:50

Maude

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude
00:37
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
03:25
Topics

Advice

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Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
00:33

Fame and Celebrity

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Beatrice Arthur on her public persona and private life
01:08
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following
02:25

Historic Events and Social Change

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Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television
02:53

LGBTQ

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Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television
02:53

Pop Culture

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Beatrice Arthur on her public persona and private life
01:08
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following
02:25

Representation on Television

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Beatrice Arthur on homosexuality on television
02:53

Television Industry

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Beatrice Arthur on not getting an agent until she got Maude
01:51
Beatrice Arthur on her huge gay following
02:25
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
00:33
Professions

Actress

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Beatrice Arthur on her time at the Actors Studio and lessons she learned there and from others she worked with
06:18

Comedian

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Beatrice Arthur on comedy devices and originality in comedy
00:57

Performers

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Beatrice Arthur on comedy devices and originality in comedy
00:57
Beatrice Arthur on the craft of performance
02:09
Beatrice Arthur on her time at the Actors Studio and lessons she learned there
02:32
Beatrice Arthur on advice to an aspiring performer
00:33
Genres

Comedy Series

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
04:23
Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude
00:37
Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear creating a part for her, --"Maude" on All in the Family and getting a spin-off, Maude
01:41
Beatrice Arthur on the actors, casting, and writing on The Golden Girls
07:43
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
03:25
People

Larry Auerbach

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Beatrice Arthur on how she was cast on The Golden Girls and the pilot being written for "a Bea Arthur type"
02:15

Tallulah Bankhead

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Beatrice Arthur on Tallulah Bankhead's perspective on homosexuality
02:08

Sid Caesar

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Beatrice Arthur on creating characters and learning from Sid Caesar
02:38
Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Sid Caesar
00:44

Hal Cooper

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Beatrice Arthur on Hal Cooper's take on humor and whether you can be taught humor
01:51

Bill Dana

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Bill Dana when he played "Uncle Angelo" on The Golden Girls
01:23

Larry David

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
04:23

Susan Harris

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Beatrice Arthur on the writing on The Golden Girls
00:50

Moss Hart

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Beatrice Arthur on Moss Hart's memoir, Act One: An Autobiography
00:35

Norman Lear

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Beatrice Arthur on Norman Lear wanting her to come to Los Angeles to work on shows he was writing for
01:17
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
03:25

Rue McClanahan

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Rue McClanahan on Maude
00:37

Howard Morris

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Beatrice Arthur on Yarmy's Army and Howard Morris' death
01:11

Red Skelton

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Beatrice Arthur on working with Red Skelton and using comedy devices
01:48

Lee Strasberg

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Beatrice Arthur on lessons she learned from Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio and from others she worked with
03:28

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