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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

For those of y’all who like watching old shows or movies, a gem like Golden Girls is very hard to find. Although the cast is made up of women in their late 50s, the cast is dotted with stars who have made their mark on the world, with one being the wonderful Beatrice “Bea” Arthur.

Bea Arthur, before she was in television, was in the Marine Corps during WWII. During a period when women were practically banned from serving in combat, Bea Arthur enlisted as one of the first members of the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. She worked as a truck driver and dispatcher in North Carolina before she was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Arthur studied acting at The New School for Social Research after her military service and worked in off-Broadway productions where she honed her acting and singing skills. She made her debut at the Met Opera in 1994 and continued to work in the theater even as her TV career flourished.

The first big show Arthur was in, titled Maude, addressed serious sociopolitical issues that were taboo for a sitcom, especially when it was airing in the 70s. Arthur’s character Maude challenged the restrictive, sexist rules of the era; she made a bid for a Congressional seat and discussed divorce, menopause, and even abortion. The discussion of abortion was an immensely touchy topic even though abortion was legalized in New York City. However, Maude’s experience with deciding to go through with having an abortion was groundbreaking and some network affiliates were so appalled that they refused to air the episode.

As Arthur settled into other characters, notably Dorothy Zbornak on Golden Girls, she began to cultivate a powerful image as an older woman who was comfortable in her skin and sexuality. Arthur’s sense of humor and intensity allowed viewers to come to love Dorothy as she dealt with her friends’ various experiences as older women.

Outside of her career, Arthur was a champion of equal rights for women and for the elderly and Jewish communities as well. She was also a massive supporter of the queer community and raised money for countless LGBTQ+ teens experiencing homelessness. She remained tireless in her fight for equal rights and supported marginalized groups up until her death in 2009.

I stumbled across Bea Arthur when I was simply searching around on Youtube for something entertaining. I saw a clip of the Golden Girls where Dorothy was saying her most notable lines and quips which had me laughing my head off. I’m awed by what she accomplished in her life and I’m so happy to talk about her and what she represents.

I am a fourth year at the University of Texas at Austin. I am currently studying Asian Languages and Cultures as well as Music Performance. I love making music, doing my makeup, and exploring places to eat.