Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (born Bernice Frankel; May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American actress, comedian, singer, and animal rights activist. Her career spanned seven decades.
Arthur achieved fame as the character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcoms All in the Family (1971–72) and Maude (1972–78), and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–92), winning Emmy Awards for both roles. A stage actress both before and after her television success, she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Vera Charles in the original cast of Mame (1966).
A private and introverted woman, according to her friends, Arthur died of cancer at her home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles on April 25, 2009. She was 86 years old. She was survived by her two sons and two granddaughters. Her body was cremated and the ashes were spread throughout Miami.
On April 28, 2009, the Broadway community paid tribute to Arthur by dimming the marquees of New York City's Broadway theater district in her memory for one minute at 8:00 pm.
Arthur's co-stars from The Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan and Betty White, commented on her death via telephone on an April 27 episode of Larry King Live. On the Today Show by phone, McClanahan said she and Arthur got along together "like cream." White said, "I knew it would hurt, I just didn't know it would hurt this much."