Beatrice Arthur, de son vrai nom Bernice Frankel,
est une actrice américaine née le 13 mai 1922 à New
York (New York) et morte le 25 avril 2009 à Los
Angeles (Californie) des suites d'un cancer.
Connue pour sa personnalité explosive et sa voix grave et profonde, Bea Arthur (ainsi qu'elle est le plus souvent appelée aux États-Unis) a été la vedette de deux sitcoms extrêmement populaires : Maude et The Golden Girls.
Beatrice Arthur est née à New York mais a
grandi au Maryland. Elle débute sa carrière au
théâtre dans les années 1940. Elle est remarquée en
1954 à Broadway dans l'adaptation anglaise de
L'Opéra de quatre sous (The Threepenny Opera en
anglais) de Bertold Brecht et Kurt Weill , aux côtés
de Lotte Lenya. En 1956-1957, elle effectue des
apparitions régulières dans l'émission du comique
Sid Caesar, Caesar's Hour.
Toujours à Broadway, elle crée le rôle de Yente dans Un violon sur le toit de Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock et Sheldon Harnick en 1964 avec Zero Mostel, puis celui de Vera Charles dans Mame de Jerry Herman, Jerome Lawrence et Robert E. Lee en 1966 aux côtés de Angela Lansbury, rôle qu'elle reprendra au cinéma en 1974.
Mais c'est le petit écran qui la révèle véritablement au grand public avec le rôle de Maude Finley dans la série All in the family en 1971. Son succès est tel qu'elle se voit offrir sa propre série dérivée (spin-off), simplement intitulée Maude, diffusée de 1972 à 1978 et qui sera adaptée en France sous le titre Maguy avec Rosy Varte dans les années 1980.
Sept ans plus tard, elle décroche le rôle de Dorothy Zbornak dans The Golden Girls (Les Craquantes en VF), diffusé de 1985 à 1992. La série qui rencontre un énorme succès ne s'interromp qu'avec le départ de l'actrice qui souhaite passer à autre chose. Elle fait ensuite plusieurs apparitions dans des séries, notamment Malcolm , puis monte un one-woman show qu'elle joue à travers les États-Unis.
Elle meurt à son domicile de Los Angeles des suites d'un cancer. Son décès intervient un peu moins d'un an après celui d'Estelle Getty, qui incarnait son espiègle et débridée maman dans The Golden Girls, alors que les deux comédiennes n'avaient qu'un an d'écart dans la vraie vie (Beatrice Arthur étant la plus âgée).
Elle a été mariée successivement au scénariste-producteur Robert Alan Aurthur et au réalisateur et metteur en scène Gene Saks dont elle a divorcé en 1978. Elle a deux fils, Matthew (né en 1961) et Daniel (né en 1964), adoptés durant son deuxième mariage.
(ENGLISH) Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American actress, comedian and singer whose career spanned seven decades. Arthur achieved fame as the title character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcoms All in the Family and Maude, and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, 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).
Arthur was born Bernice Frankel to Jewish parents Philip and Rebecca Frankel in New York City on May 13, 1922. In 1933 her family moved to Cambridge, Maryland, where her parents operated a women's clothing shop. She attended Linden Hall High School, an all girls school in Lititz, Pennsylvania, before enrolling in the now-defunct Blackstone College in Blackstone, Virginia, where she was active in drama productions.
From 1947, Beatrice Arthur studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with German director Erwin Piscator. Arthur began her acting career as a member of an off Broadway theater group at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City in the late 1940s. On stage, her roles included Lucy Brown in the 1954 Off-Broadway premiere of Marc Blitzstein's English-language adaptation of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, Yente the Matchmaker in the 1964 premiere of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, and a 1966 Tony Award-winning portrayal of Vera Charles to Angela Lansbury's Mame. She reprised the role in the 1974 film version opposite Lucille Ball. In 1981, she appeared in Woody Allen's The Floating Light Bulb. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1994 portraying the Duchess of Krakenthorp, a speaking role, in Gaetano Donizetti's La fille du régiment.
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 to the bigoted, conservative Archie Bunker, who decried her as a "New Deal fanatic". Then nearly 50, Arthur's tart turn appealed to viewers and to executives at CBS, who, she would later recall, asked "'Who is that girl? Let's give her her own series.'"
That show, previewed in her second All in the Family appearance, would be simply titled Maude. The show, debuting in 1972, would find her living in the affluent community of Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York, with her husband Walter (Bill Macy) and divorced daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau). Her performance in the role garnered Arthur several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, including her Emmy win in 1977 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
It would also earn a place for her in the history of the women's liberation movement. The groundbreaking series didn't shirk from addressing serious sociopolitical topics of the era that were fairly taboo for a sitcom, from the Vietnam War, the Nixon Administration and Maude's bid for a Congressional seat to divorce, menopause, drug use, alcoholism, nervous breakdown and spousal abuse. A prime example, "Maude's Dilemma", was a two-part episode in which Maude's character grapples with a late-life pregnancy, ultimately deciding to have an abortion. The episode aired two months before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure in the Roe v. Wade decision. Though abortion was legal in New York State, it was illegal in many regions of the country and so controversial that dozens of affiliates refused to broadcast the episode. A reported 65 million viewers watched the two episodes either in their first run that November or the following summer as a re-run. By 1978, however, Arthur decided to move on from the series.
That year, she costarred in The Star Wars Holiday Special, in which she had a song and dance routine in the Mos Eisley Cantina. She hosted The Beatrice Arthur Special on CBS on January 19, 1980, which paired the star in a musical comedy revue with Rock Hudson, Melba Moore and Wayland Flowers and Madame.
After appearing in the short-lived 1983 sitcom Amanda's (an adaptation of the British series Fawlty Towers), Arthur was cast in the sitcom The Golden Girls in 1985, in which she played Dorothy Zbornak, a divorced substitute teacher living in a Miami house owned by Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan). Her other roommates included widow Rose Nylund (Betty White) and Dorothy's Sicilian mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). Getty was actually a year younger than Arthur in real life, and was heavily made up to look significantly older. The series became a hit, and remained a top-ten ratings fixture for six seasons. Her performance led to several Emmy nominations over the course of the series and an Emmy win in 1988. Arthur decided to leave the show after seven years, and in 1992 the show was moved from NBC to CBS and retooled as The Golden Palace in which the other three actresses reprised their roles. Arthur made a guest appearance in a two-part episode.
Arthur also sporadically appeared in films, reprising her stage role as Vera Charles in the 1974 film adaption of Mame, opposite Lucille Ball. Additionally, Arthur portrayed overbearing mother Bea Vecchio in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), and had a cameo as a Roman unemployment clerk in Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part 1 (1981).
 Later career
After Arthur left The Golden Girls, she made several guest appearances on television shows and organized and toured in her one-woman show, alternately titled An Evening with Bea Arthur and And Then There's Bea. She made a guest appearance on the American cartoon Futurama, in the Emmy-nominated episode "Amazon Women in the Mood", as the voice of the Femputer who ruled the giant Amazonian women. She also appeared in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle as Mrs. White, Dewey's babysitter, in a first-season episode. She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance. She also appeared as Larry David's mother on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In 2002, she returned to Broadway starring in Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, a collection of stories and songs (with musician Billy Goldenberg) based on her life and career. The show was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. The previous year had been the category's first, and there had been only one nominee. That year, Arthur was up against solo performances by soprano Barbara Cook, comedian John Leguizamo, and Arthur's fellow student in Piscator's program at The New School, actress Elaine Stritch, who won for Elaine Stritch: At Liberty.
In addition to appearing in a number of programs looking back at her own work, Arthur performed in stage and television tributes for Jerry Herman, Bob Hope and Ellen Degeneres. In 2005, she participated in the Comedy Central roast of Pamela Anderson.
In 1999, Arthur told an interviewer of the three influences in her career: "Sid Caesar taught me the outrageous; [method acting guru] Lee Strasberg taught me what I call reality; and [the original Threepenny Opera star], Lotte Lenya, whom I adored, taught me economy."
 Personal life and death
Arthur was married twice, first to Robert Alan Aurthur, a screenwriter, television, and film producer and director, whose surname she took and kept (though with a modified spelling), and second to director Gene Saks from 1950 to 1978 with whom she adopted two sons, Matthew (born in 1961), an actor, and Daniel (born in 1964), a set designer.
She primarily lived in the Greater Los Angeles Area and had sublet her apartment on Central Park West in New York City and her country home in Bedford, New York.
Arthur was a committed animal rights activist and frequently supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigns. Arthur joined PETA in 1987 after a Golden Girls anti-fur episode. Arthur wrote letters, made personal appearances and placed ads against the use of furs, foie gras, and farm animal cruelty by KFC suppliers. She appeared on Judge Judy as a witness for an animal rights activist, and, along with Pamela Anderson insisted on a donation to PETA in exchange for appearing on Comedy Central. 
Arthur's longtime championing of civil rights for women, the elderly and the LGBT community—in her two television roles and through her charity work and personal outspokenness—has led her to be cited as an LGBT icon.
Arthur died at her home in the Greater Los Angeles Area in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 25, 2009, at the age of 86. She had been ill from cancer, and her body was cremated after her death.
On April 28, 2009, the Broadway community paid tribute to Arthur by dimming the marquees of New York City's Broadway theater district in her memory for one minute at 8:00 P.M.
Arthur's surviving co-stars from The Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan and Betty White, commented on her death via telephone on an April 27 episode of Larry King Live as well as other news outlets such as ABC. Longtime friends Adrienne Barbeau (with whom she had worked on Maude) and Angela Lansbury (with whom she had worked in Mame) released amicable statements: Barbeau said, "We've lost a unique, incredible talent. No one could deliver a line or hold a take like Bea and no one was more generous or giving to her fellow performers"; and Lansbury said, "She became and has remained my Bosom Buddy [...] I am deeply saddened by her passing, but also relieved that she is released from the pain".