Bea Arthur Dies at Age 86

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Another Golden Girl has moved on to the Shady Pines in the sky. Bea Arthur died today in L.A. at the age of 86; a family spokesperson said she had cancer. An imposingly tall woman with a husky contra-alto that didn't just nail a sardonic punchline, it would drive it clear through the wall, Arthur first rose to prominence playing Edith Bunker's ultra-liberal cousin Maude Finley on All in the Family.

That led in 1972 to her own spinoff, Maude, which covered controversial topics like alcoholism and abortion over the course of its six seasons. In 1985, she'd return to primetime with The Golden Girls, and the role she would forever hang her hat on: bookish, sarcastic English teacher Dorothy Zbornak, aka Pussycat. She won an Emmy for each of those roles. She also had a long Broadway career before that, having starred as Yente the Matchmaker in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, and winning the Tony for Mame.

A strong and hilarious woman who left an indelible imprint on what was largely a man's realm, none could take her place. This YouTube photo album tribute set to Feist kinda made me moist-eyed. She really did know who she was. Bye, Bea. You'll be missed.

And one more thing: Rue, Betty. You'd just better show up.

· `Golden Girls' star Bea Arthur dies at 86 [AP]



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