‘All in the Family’: Norman Lear Created One Spinoff Due to Phone Call Demand from CBS President

by Keeli Parkey

The success of the sitcom “All in the Family” led to the creation of several spinoff shows. These included “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Maude.”

And, one of these reportedly came about with a simple phone call. So which spinoff was it?

According to actress Bea Arthur, who starred as the title character in “Maude,” it was the creation of that spinoff that started with a phone call from the president of CBS to Norman Lear. Lear was the creative force behind “All in the Family.”

Arthur talked about the creation of “Maude” and more during her 2002 one-woman show “Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends.”

The actress said that the journey to having her own show started when she was cast in an episode of “All in the Family.”

She also said that she and Lear had been friends and he offered to give her a part on his new hit show.

“And then, when (Norman Lear) did become so successful with the series ‘All in the Family/ he called me and asked me to come out and play a part – he’d write something for me,” Arthur recalled during her one-woman show.

So what was the part?

“It turned out to be Edith Bunker’s liberal cousin, Maude,” Arthur added. “It was a h*** of a lot of fun.”

Bea Arthur Impressed CBS President with Her Performance on ‘All in the Family’

Her work as Maude on “All in the Family” did not go unnoticed. According to Arthur, the president of CBS liked her performance so much that he made a very intriguing suggestion to Norman Lear.

“And, shortly after that Norman called me and told me he had gotten a call from the president of CBS who said to him, ‘Who is that girl? Let’s give her her own series,'” Bea Arthur recalled.

Arthur also couldn’t help but notice the fact that she was referred to as a “girl” at that point in her life.

“I love that,” ‘Who is that girl?’ I was already middle-aged,” she said. “But that’s how it all came about. I like to think about it as yet another ‘Cinderella’ story.”

Arthur’s appearance as Maude Findlay on “All in the Family” took place in 1971. She appeared on the show once again during 1972. “Maude” aired from 1972 until 1978, according to IMDb.com. There were 141 episodes of the show. Arthur won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1977 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “Maude.”

Bea Arthur Served in the United States Marine Corps

Before she was Maude and Dorothy Zbornak on “The Golden Girls” Bea Arthur was a United States Marine. She served her country during World War II.

According to the website of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Arthur was one of many women who chose to join the Women’s Reservists group. When she decided to join, she had not reached 21 years of age. So, her parents had to give their permission. She officially signed up on Feb. 20, 1943.