‘Golden Girls’: Bea Arthur Revealed Why She ‘Wasn’t Good’ at Accepting Awards

by Joe Rutland

Awards dinners and receiving accolades were not the most favorite things for “The Golden Girls” star Bea Arthur to attend at all.

She admitted as much in a 2008 interview for the “Out In Hollywood” blog. Prior to doing this interview, Arthur, who played Dorothy on NBC’s “The Golden Girls’ and Maude Findlay on CBS’s “Maude,” was honored by the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Much of Arthur’s work prior to TV had been on Broadway. She was part of the original Broadway productions of “Mame” and “The Threepenny Opera.” Yet her recognition factor with the public shot up tremendously thanks to her work on “The Golden Girls” and “Maude.”

Bea Arthur Of ‘Golden Girls’ Said Receiving Honor ‘Was Fabulous’

“It was fabulous,” Arthur, one of four stars on “The Golden Girls,” said of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I mean, I was really very, very, very touched. I’m not good at those evenings though. I feel I can act … but standing there and accepting accolades is something else. I was embarrassed.”

What is interesting to note is that back in 2003, the Television Academy first asked Arthur about being inducted. She turned it down, citing her feeling that others deserved that honor more for their work.

This time in 2008, though, she changed her mind. It’s a good thing because Bea Arthur left an indelible mark on the television world.

Her “Golden Girls” costars were Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. Arthur died on April 25, 2009, at 86 years old.

Arthur Felt Like ‘Maude’ Proved To Be ‘Groundbreaker’ Role

She held a lot of gratitude for television producer Norman Lear, who put her in the role of Maude Findlay for “All in the Family.” Maude played the foil for Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor.

Their interactions on one episode alone led CBS executives to want Arthur in a spinoff. That led to “Maude,” where she costarred with Bill Macy, Adrienne Barbeau, and future “Golden Girl” McClanahan.

In her one-woman show Bea Arthur on Broadway – Just Between Friends, she talked about playing Maude.

“In terms of comedy, ‘Maude‘ was a real groundbreaker,” she said. “A real groundbreaker. Meaning, that every week on the third day of rehearsal we would have to read the entire script to the network censor. 

“And then, poor Norman would say, ‘Look, Bea has to say that word. I will cut that word. I’ll cut that sentence. I’ll cut that whole area, but she has to say that word,'” Arthur said. “I remember once I was supposed to say ‘son of a b***h.’ They wouldn’t let me do it. I ended up saying ‘son of a witch.'”