“Suddenly the whole country knew me. It was very odd and different…” In this remarkable 2008 interview, ‘Golden Girls’ legend Bea Arthur recalls her staunch hesitations with fame.
In mid-December 2008, entertainment blog Out In Hollywood received a belated call from none other than Bea Arthrur. The ‘Golden Girls’ and ‘Maude’ star was to meet the trade after her Television Academy Hall of Fame ceremony that year, but had run out of time amidst the madness. “Swarmed by well-wishers” the iconic actor was that night, having just received induction into the Academy’s prestigious Television Hall of Fame.
Yet Arthur was not always television’s favorite “broad,” as she once put it. Among starring in Broadway’s original ‘Mame and ‘Three Penny Opera’ productions, the actor held a 30-year career as one of America’s premiere thespians.
Needless to say, for someone who never enjoyed the spotlight, the ‘Golden Girls’ star found her switch to a household face an absolutely jarring one.
“Suddenly the whole country knew me. It was very odd and different,” she told Out In Hollywood in their belated interview. “Originally, I used to find myself running away from people and dodging them at restaurants.”
‘Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur Originally Declined Television Hall of Fame Induction
As for her induction to the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame earlier that year (2008), it was an honor well past due. The Academy’s original offer to Arthur was declined five years prior. Why? In no way did the actor identify with her “icon” status at the time. Instead, she turned down the Academy – citing “she felt there were others far more deserving.”
Then, in 2008, at age 86, Bea Arthur gave in – and the ceremony commenced.
“It was fabulous,” she recalled of the evening’s soiree in her honor. “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,” ‘Golden Girls’ infamous Dorothy Zbornak admitted. To ease the pain, the Academy appointed one of Arthur’s lifelong friends from the industry to present her with the honor: Angela Lansbury.
The two were close friends for Arthur’s entire life after meeting on the set of ‘Mame’ in the 60s, with Lansbury still alive and well today. This did not, however, stop Bea’s trademark, deadpan humility at the time.
“Angela, bless her heart, went on much too long!” she remarked of her dear friend’s speech.
Needless to say, there’s not a ‘Golden Girls’ fan in existence who doesn’t find Bea Arthur beyond deserving of the Television Hall of Fame. There’ll never be another “broad” like her.