May 13 marks what would have the 98th birthday of Tony winner Bea Arthur. In remembrance of Arthur, we're taking a look back at her illustrious career on and off the stage.
Arthur began her career performing in Off-Broadway productions, before creating roles in the legendary Marc Blitzstein translation of Threepenny Opera and originating the role of Yente the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. In 1966 she appeared in Mame as Vera Charles— which won her the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
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In 1971, Arthur made a guest appearance as the character Maude Findlay in the sitcom All in the Family which would lead to a spin-off series centered around the character. Maude ran for six seasons and earned Arthur an Emmy Award in 1977 (as well as several nominations throughout the series' run). After leaving the series in 1978, Arthur starred in a few television projects (including the notorious Star Wars Christmas special) before landing her iconic role as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls.
The Golden Girls premiered in 1985 and ran until 1992, garnering numerous awards and nominations for Arthur and her costars Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. Though Arthur won an Emmy for her performance on the series in 1988, she was nominated an additional eight times—making her the third most nominated Leading Actress in a Comedy Series in the history of the awards.
Arthur continued to work in stage and screen projects after leaving The Golden Girls, premiering her one-woman show Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends on Broadway in 2002. She died in 2009 at the age of 86.