April 25, 2009

"I was already 50 years old. I had done so much off-Broadway, on Broadway, but they said, 'Who is that girl? Let's give her her own series.'"

The "girl" was Bea Arthur. The show was "Maude."

Bea Arthur, dead at 86.

This is probably the most famous clip from the show: Maude thinking about getting an abortion.

Added personal note: I saw Bea Arthur on Broadway in the 1960s in "Mame." I remember her sitting on a big crescent moon singing "The Man in the Moon Is a Miss." Here she is reminiscing about that scene and performing the song. [CORRECTION: Bea was singing the song, and Angela Lansbury was sitting on the moon. Sorry. It was 40 years ago. I really did see it though.]

And more generally, "everybody today is turning on":

TV in the 70s. Bizarre. That's Rock Hudson with the mustache.


ElcubanitoKC said...

Very very sad. She was indeed a grand dame of theater and comedy. May she rest in peace.

Here she is with another great one..

dbp said...

What I found so odd about the "abortion" episode was how unlikely a woman her age was to be getting pregnant.

dbp said...

Let me add, a great actress.


Kansas City said...

Also RIP.

It is interesting to read about her, because I often wondered how someone with her looks, voice, etc. could become a successful actress. The answer, of course, is talent, but it was an odd niche. I can't think of who, if anyone, is in a similar place now.

I found the abortion clip chilling. It was at a time when liberals were pushing the abortion is no big deal line, like going to a dentist. At least we have progressed from that horrible place, although perhaps people still say that in private.

Finally, I forgot Rock Hudson sang or that television in the 70's included that kind of entertainment. It was sort of endearing in a banal sort of way.

Christy said...

Thanks for posting that clip, ElCubanito. I love the Bosom Buddies duet from Mame. The shimmy there at the end was very Susan Boyle, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Regarding "Mame": I never saw it on Broadway, only the (dreadful) movie version plus one amateur production. Seems to be that it would have been Mame sitting on that crescent moon, not Vera Charles (the Beatrice Arthur character), who was playing an astronomer who discovers that "the man in the moon is a lady."

RIP, Beatrice Arthur.

Freeman Hunt said...

Goodbye, Bea.


That abortion clip was pretty vile. Actually, "sick" was the first descriptor I thought of.

Trooper York said...

Bea was one cool broad. I didn't agree with her about almost anything, but I think she got it.
May God have Mercy on her soul.

Palladian said...

Liberals don't do that "simple as going to the dentist" shtick anymore, do they? Funny that there's no mention of the nascent life in that whole show.

Anyway, goodbye to a wonderful talent.

Palladian said...

And who wrote that drug song? If they're not already dead, they should be.

I always want to remind my students who do the retro 70s thing that that kind of thing is what the 70s were really like. Chunky sunglasses, glittery tshirt decals and David Bowie were only about 3 percent of it. The remaining 97% was this

Ann Althouse said...

@MrBuddwing Yes, but the Bea Arthur character is the "Miss" so she's the one sitting on the crescent that descends. Both women have parts in the song.

Ann Althouse said...

Or wait, no, I misread you. You could be right. It is Bea Arthur's main song, but maybe she was on the stage and Angela Lansbury descended on the moon. It was more than 40 years ago that I saw it! I remember big laughs for that song though.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Christy, indeed :)

I don't think that gracefulness was ever her forté, but that made her very endearing. At least not gracefulness in the traditional sense, whatever that may be.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Oh, yeah, and before I forget, she was also a veteran of the USMC from WWII.

Maxine Weiss said...

For the record: Lucille Ball's Mame was far superior, even with the blurry lenses.

Nobody outdoes Rosalind Russell, but Lucille Ball was good.

Maguro said...

I first remember Bea Arthur from a late 70's episode of Saturday Night Live, in a skit dealing with breast cancer, of all things. The skit was positively cringe-inducing in its earnestness but she was likable enough in her own gruff way.


Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't know if she was a great actress or just really likable, but I loved her in Golden Girls and I know a lot of gays are going to miss her.

Anonymous said...

Maude's daughter in that scene seems so enthusiastic about abortion one would think she got one every month whether she needed it or not.

Alex said...

Even though I'm pro-choice, I'm horrified by how cheery the daughter talks about abortion - "like going to the dentist".

Kansas City said...

I want to be a little careful about how I say this, but weren't the earliest supporters of birth control and abortion advocating it as a means of eugenics [sp?].

And I sometimes wonder to what extent current pro-abortion folks are motivated by the desire, or at least satisfied with the outcome, of dimnishing the number of poor and minority children.

In the video clip, the daughter's advocacy of abortion is so chilling (in a different way) that it makes me think of those other motivations.

EnigmatiCore said...

What an absolutely abhorrent clip.

I may not want to take away the option, but the fact that people really do think it is akin to a minor dental procedure is sickening. And I know it was just a show, but the writers were representing a view they knew some people held.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Norman Lear has a lot to answer for- he practically killed comedy on prime-time tv for 20 years until Seinfeld put a cross through the heart of "socially relevant" comedy.

As a child of the 70s I always thought of Be Arthur and Es Asner as two sides of the same coin. On second thought, Alan Alda was Bea's opposite half, the feminized self-doubting male to her masculine self-assurance.

cardeblu said...

Palladian: "Funny that there's no mention of the nascent life in that whole show."

IIRC, she found out she was actually going through menopause and was not pregnant. I could be wrong, though, as I seem to remember an episode where her husband, Walter, was getting a vasectomy.

I didn't care for that show or it's progenitor, All in the Family, or AITF's other spinoff The Jeffersons, or Good Times, which was a spinoff from Maude; Florida used to be her maid/housekeeper. Oh, I watched them with my parents, but eh... I don't think I've ever watched an entire episode of Golden Girls, either.

Be that as it may, RIP Bea.

cardeblu said...

Okay, I was mistaken. I should have read the linked article first; she did have an abortion.

I liked my wrong recollection better...

Jeanine said...

Man, I forgot how hot Adrianne Barbeau was.

Anonymous said...

Your second recollection is correct, Ann...Bea played the famous "lady astronomer who has made an earth-shattering discovery"...that The Man In the Moon Is a Lady!. Bea sings the song, and it is Angela (or Lucy) on the moon who screws the whole thing up, forgetting her (1) line and slipping off the moon. Hilarity ensues. Bea has the best line (to Mame) after the song..."I've got a little secret for YOU...the man in the moon is a BITCH!!!"

reader_iam said...

What I found so odd about the "abortion" episode was how unlikely a woman her age was to be getting pregnant.

Um, ok, if you say so.

What a great tribute--though you're clearly clueless--to Bea Arthur, that comment of yours! Great broad that she was, she always sent the rats to skittering, scattering, every-which-way nattering... on and on, and so on.

RIP, Beatrice Arthur.


P.S. I'm celebrating her life, not mourning her death. She died at 86--and what a helluva eight-plus decades she did. ...

Sure, I'm passing sad. More, I'm enduringly appreciative.

reader_iam said...

Also, just to be an ass****--to embrace that, even--I want to point out that in my previous comment, I had no problem in dealing with italics, line-breaks, and all that jazz. Folks might hate the content of my comment, but--golly--shouldn't they be all admiring of my form and skill?

Just askin'. After only sayin'.

TitusisVerySadToday said...

I loved the abortion scene.

I wish they would of pulled the brat out of her cooch when she was nine months pregnant and the thing was still alive and stick a knife in it's mouth and kill it.

But's that's just me.

Oh, the golden age of tele. We would never see those scenes today. What a shame.

TitusisVerySadToday said...

Well we at least have to look forward to Bruno.

reader_iam said...

Oh, "f" you, Titus, sweetie. Though I find it interesting that you chose to comment just.this.very. proximate. minute. : )

For the record, I saw that Maude episode in real time. It produced much debate, cross-generationally speaking. Over time, in the years following, more discussion ensued,with even another generation weighing in.

For myself, when it came down to it and it counted, I waited & didn't jump to conclusions.


TitusisVerySadToday said...

Two things I want to share with you fellow repubicans and lovers of the Bush Doctrine and haters of everything about Barack Hussein Obama.

First, I have a zit inside my nose and a bunch of boogs have crowded around it and I can't pick any of them out because the zit hurts. I am totally devastated. Those boogs need to come out.

Second, I jerky jerky'd tonight and I wiped it off with toilet paper and now my entire head of my hog is polluted with TP. The chizz acted as a "glue" and it has affixed the TP to my hog. I am sure you have all been there. The sensation of lightly, gently, slowly ripping the TP off my head of my hog is totally enjoyable.

thank you so much for allowing me to share. And Hi Palady Malady. Love you tons.

TitusisVerySadToday said...

I am all about eating salads now. As a result I am shitting constantly.

I had an argula salad with strawberries, pears, almonds, and goat cheese for dindin. I took three dumps immediately afterward. Once I was done with the dumps by abs were totally pronounced and hard. What a feeling. I love having hard abs. I would not eat for weeks in order to have hard abs. thats how dedicated I am.

It's a shame that some people aren't willing to get their bodies in shape and eat healthy. I aint being judgy or anything but their really is no excuse.

Thank you.

TitusisVerySadToday said...

These are the things I am into right now:

Fage yogurt-"0".
Wasabi Peas
No bread or pasta
5 bottles of water a day
No meat of any kind
Orange Juice
Goat Cheese
Strawberries, Pears, Grapes and Bananas
Whey Protein Shakes
Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Beans, Carrots, Corn, Egg Beaters, Organic Low Fat Chocolate Milk.
Every green you can imagine. Go ahead try and imagine every green. that's what I am all about.
Everything about dogs, specially my beautiful dogs that were all the rage today. They were called "cool", "amazing" and "handsome" today.
Not eating after 6:00 p.m.
Running 10 miles on the machine every day.
5 days pumping iron a week.
4 classes of yoga a week.
Bicep curls in every variation
Reading zen shit.
Using my own organic bag at whole foods.
Schindler's List. Specially, where jews live in the world today I find fascinating.
Extending my leg to my nose.
Feeling the earth with my feet.
Being a size 30 waist instead of size 31.
Weighing 160 pounds rather than 165. I am 5"10 so 160 is really the desired weight.

And.....Frank Rich, natch.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share. Really, you have been too kind.

reader_iam said...

No,no,no: Thank YOU, Titus--not just for reminding, but enforcing, on the part of Althouse.

The reminding part is most effective, because it does double duty: Let no comment stand for itself, and let no comment be discussed fairly and seriously.

Mock, mock, mock, mock, mock mock mock. Mockety, mockety, mockety, mockety, mock mock mock mock mock!

Gee, Titus, have you ever considered how that sounds? I mean, actually sounds?

Try it. Out loud.

reader_iam said...

It's dawning on morn. Let's go check and see (and hear) how those hens are laying.

What a cacophony!

reader_iam said...

My personal wish is that amongst the broken, stamped on shells, the likes of Jason and Peter Hoh (such different people!) survive at Althouse--not because of their opinions, but on account of character and integrity. At one time, those things were valued enough here to pay respect for, and to defend. At one time, that included more than a scant handful of commenters. At one time, it included, sometimes, Althouse--and even, occasionally, Ann--herself.

reader_iam said...

At one time, that [those willing to pay respect and to defend]included more than a scant handful of commenters. At one time, it [that] included, sometimes, Althouse--and even, occasionally, Ann--herself

kentuckyliz said...

Rock Hudson singing about amyl nitrates was just a guy's name was pretty funny...given he was gay, amyl nitrates are a big gay sex drug, and Rock died of AIDS. Kinda pitiful really.

There should be a Wii Abortion game, and the controllers are laminaria and cutters. You have to force open the cervix and go in and cut up and scrape out that baby, without puncturing the uterus and causing the patient to bleed to death.

I never heard of anyone bleeding to death from going to the dentist.

dbp said...

What I found so odd about the "abortion" episode was how unlikely a woman her age was to be getting pregnant.

Um, ok, if you say so.

In all fairness, I was around 12 when the episode aired and I didn't yet have a degree in biology. Now I do and yes, it is very unlikely for a 50 year old to get pregnant. Not impossible, but not at all likely.

rcocean said...

I really miss Maude

Great writing - who can forget "Maude -sit!" or "God'll getcha for that, Walter." And the hysterically funny shouting and insults? Or the great comedy skills of Bill Macy and Adrienne Barbeau.

Norman Lear - comedy genius.

former law student said...

Norman Lear - comedy genius

Norman Lear -- ever more heavy handed preacher of liberal ideology.

While All in the Family was a refreshing change, his later works were monotone and preachy.

His worst legacy was "the very special" episode of some dreadful sitcom, in which, for example, some perky teenaged daughter would be exposed to drugs, addicted, and cured, all within the space of a 22 minute episode -- two at the most.

Fortunately, the adult cartoony "Married With Children" drove a stake through the heart of the very special episode syndrome.

MadisonMan said...

I could watch the Bosom Buddies duet with Angela Lansbury for hours. Love it.

RIP Bea. You had a great life and brought me much enjoyment.