‘Golden Girls’: Bea Arthur Revealed She Was a ‘Very Withdrawn’ Child Due to Height

by Jennifer Shea
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“The Golden Girls” star Bea Arthur may have played some gutsy broads on TV, but growing up, she was an extremely shy child.

Arthur was also an extremely tall child, she revealed in “Bea Arthur on Broadway.” By age 8, she was already 5’9”, she said. And she stood out among the kids in her class, which couldn’t have been easy for the future actress.

In fact, acting was a real challenge for Arthur, who had to come out of her shell to embody some of the roles she would go on to play. Arthur died in Los Angeles in 2009. But before she did, she played several characters that went down in television history.

Bea Arthur Wondered If She Had ‘The Guts’

“I tell you, I simply wanted to see if I had the guts to just come out and be myself,” Arthur said. “It’s something I never felt very comfortable doing. I know none of you are going to believe this, but I was a very shy child. You all know me because of those assertive women I played on TV. … Or sending shivers through my mother [on ‘The Golden Girls’] with the words, ‘Shady Pines.’’’

“But I was a very, very shy, very withdrawn child,” she continued. “Possibly because even at age eight, I think I was 5’9 and a half in my stocking feet. And with a very deep voice.”

As it turned out, Arthur did have what it took to be an actress. And not only that, but she would go on to win two Emmy Awards, one for “Maude” in 1977 and one for “The Golden Girls” in 1988.

Arthur’s Emmy Win for ‘The Golden Girls’ Surprised Her

Arthur was up against some stiff competition in 1988 in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category. Among her competitors were her “Golden Girls” co-stars Betty White and Rue McClanahan.

But White and McClanahan had each taken home the award in the preceding years. And apparently, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences wanted to honor “The Golden Girls” again. So the award went to Arthur.

“Let me say, right away, that I’ll make this very brief,” she said in her acceptance speech. “The four of us want to thank – because we all won – Paul, Tony and Susan and Terry and Kathy and Mort and Barry and Winnie and Terry Hughes, our brilliant director. And I would also like to thank Norman Lear for starting me off in this crazy, wonderful, delicious medium. Thank you.”

Lear and Bud Yorkin created “Maude,” a sitcom about an outspoken middle-aged woman on her fourth husband and living in Westchester County, New York. And fans of both “Maude” and “The Golden Girls” are no doubt grateful that he did.

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