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American actress Bea Arthur dies at age 86

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Arthur in 1987.
Image: Alan Light.

Beatrice Arthur, an American actress, died at the age of 86 on Saturday morning at her home in Los Angeles, California, according to a spokesperson. Arthur had been suffering from cancer for some time.

"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.

Born in New York City in 1922, Arthur was probably most famous for her role in the American TV series The Golden Girls, where she played Dorothy Zbornak, and her role in Maude. Both roles earned her Emmy Awards. She also won a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway musical Mame.

"Bea was such an important part of a very happy time in my life and I have dearly loved her for a very long time," said Betty White, one of Arthur's co-stars on The Golden Girls to Access Hollywood. Rue McClalahan, who co-starred with Arthur in both series, said she will "miss her courage [and] her voice".

Arthur was also an advocate for gay rights, saying she once considered a gay relationship after a bad divorce. "With all the improvements and all the people who've become so much more knowledgeable, there's still an enormous amount of vicious homophobia," said Arthur in a 2001 interview with Out Magazine.

On July 22, 2008, Estelle Getty, who also co-starred with Arthur on The Golden Girls, died after a battle with dementia.


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