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Beatrice Arthur: Thank you for being a friend

April 25, 2009 |  2:21 pm

Beaarthur

Beatrice Arthur, the Tony- and Emmy-winning actress best known for her role as Dorothy Zbornak in TV's "The Golden Girls," has passed away. She was 86 and was suffering from cancer, according to the Associated Press.

The actress died early today at her home in Los Angeles with her family by her side, said family spokesman Dan Watt. He did not give further details.

Tall and husky voiced, Arthur won her biggest audiences for her television roles in NBC's "The Golden Girls" (1985-1992) and CBS' "Maude" (1972-1978). But it was on the stage that she began and ended her career. In 1966, she won the Tony award for best featured actress in a musical for "Mame," in which she co-starred with Angela Lansbury.

In 2002, she returned to New York for her solo show "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends," which was nominated for a Tony for best special theatrical event. 

A version of the show played at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood in 2004.

Her other notable New York stage appearances include the original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in which she played Yente, the elderly matchmaker, and "The Floating Light Bulb," written by Woody Allen.

In 1995, Arthur appeared on stage in L.A. at the Tiffany Theatre's production of "Bermuda Avenue Triangle," in which she co-starred with Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor. The Times reviewer wrote that the play was "a great reason to see three seasoned pros serve up the best shtick around."

Arthur also performed at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1997 in a production of Anne Meara's "After-Play."

In an interview with The Times in 2001, Arthur said: "I love performing for different audiences. Their reactions are not always the same. The towns do begin to drift together. Sometimes I forget where I am. But I always leave the light on in the bathroom."

-- David Ng

Photo: Beatrice Arthur performs her solo show. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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