Celebrating Bea Arthur: Angela Lansbury to host a memorial for Bea Arthur on 14 Sep

Five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury will host a memorial for friends and family of Tony and Emmy Award-winning entertainment icon Beatrice Arthur at Broadway's Majestic Theatre on 14 Sep 2009.

The ceremony begins at 1pm and seating is open to the general public on a first-come, first-served admission basis.

Directed by Mark Waldrop, 'Celebrating Bea Arthur' will feature remembrances and performances from the late actress's family and friends, including Adrienne Barbeau ('Maude' co-star), Zoe Caldwell, Billy Goldenberg (Arthur's longtime accompanist), Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof lyricist), Charlie Hauck ('Maude' head writer), Norman Lear ('Maude' producer), Clinton Leupp (Miss Coco Peru), Anne Meara, Rosie O'Donnell, Chita Rivera, Daryl Roth (Bea Arthur on Broadway producer), Jerry Stiller and Rue McClanahan ('The Golden Girls').

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Ali Forney Center, one of Bea Arthur's most beloved charities The Ali Forney Center.

TV, Film and Theatre actress Bea Arthur, who won a 1966 Tony Award for the musical "Mame," died of cancer at her home in Los Angeles on 25 Apr 2009, aged 86.

Bea Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. At the age of 12 she had already gained her full height of 5 ft 9in, and had acquired her distinctive deep voice. In order to gain acceptance amongst her school friends she learnt to tell jokes and developed a quick wit. Her height and deep voice meant she was always selected to play the lead male roles at her girls school's theatrical productions, and it was here that she first discovered her love of acting.

Bea Arthur found international fame for her role as 'Dorothy Zbornak' from the hit TV sitcom �The Golden Girls�, in which she would send shivers down her on-screen mother�s spine (played by Estelle Getty) with the words �Shady Pines.� However, this was not her first big role in a sitcom, in the 70�s Bea played 'Maude Findlay,' the leading character of an earlier sitcom named �Maude.� Bea sent similar shivers down the back of Maude�s on-screen emasculated husband (played by Bill Macy) with the words �God will get you for that Walter!�

Though Bea is now famous for her forthright, loud-mouthed and liberal sitcom characters, she did have an earlier and equally successful career on Broadway. Bea played the original 'Yente' the Matchmaker in �Fiddler on the Roof� (1964); and she won a 1966 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the role of 'Vera Charles' in �Mame�, a role she also played in the movie version in which she starred along side Lucille Ball.

Other Broadway roles included 'Threepenny Opera' (Lucy Brown: 1954 revival), 'Plain and Fancy' (Ruth Winters - understudy: 1955), 'Seventh Heaven' (Mme. Suze: 1955), 'Nature's Way' (Nadine Fesser: 1957), and 'Mame' (Vera Charles: 1966).

Bea Arthur last appeared on Broadway in her own show 'Bea Arthur on Broadway' (2002) which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.

Originally published on

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