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Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (born Bernice Frankel; May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American actress, comedian, singer, and animal rights activist. Arthur achieved fame as the character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcoms All in the Family (1971–72) and Maude (1972–78), and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–92), winning Emmy Awards for both roles.
A stage actress both before and after her television success, she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Vera Charles in the original cast of Mame (1966).
A prime example is "Maude's Dilemma", a two-part episode airing near Thanksgiving of 1972 in which Maude's character grapples with a late-life pregnancy, ultimately deciding to have an abortion.
Even though abortion was legal in New York State since 1970, as well as in California since its state's 1969 on-demand ruling, it was illegal in many other regions of the country and, as such, sparked controversy.
Nearly 50, Arthur's tart turn on All in the Family impressed viewers as well as executives at CBS who, she would later recall, asked "'Who is that girl?
She made a guest appearance on the American cartoon Futurama, in the Emmy-nominated 2001 episode "Amazon Women in the Mood", as the voice of the Femputer who ruled the giant Amazonian women.
In 1971, Arthur was invited by Norman Lear to guest-star on his sitcom All in the Family, as Maude Findlay, the cousin of Edith Bunker.
An outspoken liberal feminist, Maude was the antithesis role to the conservative Republican character Archie Bunker, who described her as a "New Deal fanatic".
After appearing in the short-lived 1983 sitcom Amanda's (an adaptation of the British series Fawlty Towers), Arthur was cast in The Golden Girls in 1985, in which she played Dorothy Zbornak, a divorced substitute teacher living in a Miami house owned by widow Blanche Devereaux (Rue Mc Clanahan).
Her other roommates included widow Rose Nylund (Betty White) and Dorothy's Sicilian mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty).
Later the same year (1978), she costarred in Star Wars Holiday Special, in which she had a song and dance routine in the Mos Eisley Cantina.