Father Tony

Bea Arthur Remembered

Filed By Father Tony | September 16, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: adrienne barbeau, Anne Meara, Bea Arthur, betty white, norman lear, rue maclanahan

I September2009 070.jpgattended the star-studded memorial service for Bea Arthur at the Majestic Theater on 44th Street in New York City with my friend JoeMyGod. Angela Lansbury hosted, and participants included Adrienne Barbeau, Zoe Caldwell, Norman Lear, Rue McClanahan, Ann Meara and Jerry Stiller, Rosie O'Donnell and Chita Rivera. We were entertained with two hours of ribald recollections, funny stories and videos. The punchline of one of the NSFW remembrances is "I'd send a canary in first."

Rue McClanahan told another in which a drunken Bea succinctly speaks her mind about Betty White using only one word that begins with the same letter as canary. The incredible Angela Lansbury, an octogenarian who moves with the coltish fluidity of a sixteen year old, opened the celebration by wonderfully belting out the song from Mame that was Bea Arthur's big solo, The Man in the Moon is a Lady.

I also had a chat with Buck Hollywood from "What the Buck", caught up with old friend Michael Wilson who is Executive Director of the Hartford Stage Company, traded beauty secrets with Coco Peru and met a very handsome young man named Eric Garcia who plays piano and sings several nights a week at Chez Josephine on 42nd Street, the location of the after-party where I got the picture of Anne Meara seated across the table from Norman Lear. We will go back there soon to, um, hear the boy sing.

The big good news announced at the celebration by Executive Director Carl Siciliano is that the Ali Forney Center is naming its first housing facility the "Bea Arthur Residence". For that reason, it would have also been appropriate had Angela sung yet another song from Mame, Saint Brigit Deliver Us. Come on, you theater and movie queens. You know it by heart, but can you hit those notes at the end? I can, and the remarkable Angela Lansbury still can.

Here are some stellar pics:

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thanks for this piece, Tony - I wish I could have been there! one correction - the Ali Forney center is naming their first PURCHASED site after Bea - they have about a dozen apartments in NYC for the young people they work with......

Is that Doris Day in the picture with Buck?


I can only imagine the trouble that the two of you could cause together.

My favorite Bea Arthur quip comes from MAUD. Walter had been having a drinking problem and belted Maud, giving her a black eye. The maid Florida is teasing Maud with comments like, "Is Walter the Great White Hope? She pesters Maud, asking how she got the black eye? Maud states, deadpan, "I was skipping rope bra-less."

I grew up watching Maude. It was a my first taste of something on television that smelled of feminism and as shocking as it was back then... it was funny. She made feminism fun and funny.

I liked that.

The word "feminism" was very polar back then.
Half the population found it a dirty word, like the "F" word.
The other half of the population got in your face and said "F" you!

Bea Arthur made me understand F them all w/a deadpan joke. It makes the opponent look so very stupid and boring.