Los Angeles — Beatrice (Bea) Arthur,
the actress best known for her hit comedy shows Maude and The
Golden Girls, has died of cancer at 86, a family spokesperson
confirmed Saturday morning. Arthur died peacefully at her Los
Angeles home with her family at her side.
"She was a brilliant and witty
woman. Bea will always have a special place in my heart," said
Dan Watt, Arthur's spokesman for six years.
Arthur made her Broadway debut as Lucy
Brown in the 1954 production of The Threepenny Opera. The
following year she appeared in Plain and Fancy and Seventh
Heaven. In 1964, Arthur originated the role of Yente the
Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof.
In 1966, she took on the role of Vera
Charles in Mame, for which she won the Tony. Her last
appearance was in the 2002 solo show Bea Arthur on Broadway.
Arthur gained fame as Maude Findlay on
CBS' All in the Family, and subsequently a television show of
her own, popular sitcom Maude, which ran from 1972-1978.
Arthur is perhaps best know for her
hilarious portrayal of Dorothy Zbornak on NBC's The Golden Girls.
The hit show ran from 1985-1992.
Over the course of her career, Arthur
received 10 Emmy Award nominations, with 2 wins; 1977 and 1988's Emmy
Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
The iconic actress is survived by two
sons, Matthew and Daniel, and two granddaughters. No funeral
services are planned.
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