Golden Girls Star Bea Arthur Dies at 86

Sat. April 25, 2009 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Los Angeles - Beatrice (Bea) Arthur, the actress best known for her hit comedy shows "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," has died of cancer at 86 a family spokesperson confirmed Saturday morning. Arthur died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with her family at her side.

"She was a brilliant and witty woman. Bea will always have a special place in my heart," said Dan Watt, Arthur's spokesman for six years.

Arthur made her Broadway debut as Lucy Brown in the 1954 production of The Threepenny Opera. The following year she appeared in Plain and Fancy and Seventh Heaven. In 1964, Arthur originated the role of Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof.

In 1966, she took on the role of Vera Charles in Mame, for which she won the Tony. Her last appearance was in the 2002 solo show Bea Arthur on Broadway.

Arthur gained fame as Maude Findlay on CBS' "All in the Family", and subsequently a television show of her own, popular sitcom "Maude", which ran from 1972-1978.

Arthur is perhaps best know for her hilarious portrayal of Dorothy Zbornak on NBC's "The Golden Girls". The hit show ran from 1985-1992.

Over the course of her career, Arthur received 10 Emmy Award nominations, with 2 wins; 1977 and 1988's Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

The iconic actress is survived by two sons, Matthew and Daniel, and two granddaughters. No funeral services are planned.