'Symbolism was my life'

by CynthiaYockey on April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur nude, 1991, John Curin, Tate Gallery

Bea Arthur nude, 1991, John Curin, Tate Gallery

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur

Beloved gay icon Bea Arthur passed away today at the age of 86. She will be missed. I wrote this piece before I looked for photos and I chose one because it is charming and the other because — actually, I’m not up to telling you the most important reason why — I’ll tell you that Margaret would know — but the shock value of a naked Bea Arthur was a distant second. It’s about as close as I ever plan to come to being eligible for Stacy’s Rule 5 Sunday.

My fondest memory of one of Ms. Arthur’s performances was when she played Dorothy Petrillo-Zbornak on The Golden Girls from 1985 to 1992. The episode was about her ex-husband, Stanley, re-appearing in her life, much to her dismay and she recalls what led her to divorce him:

Dorothy: I remember when Stanley told me he was having an affair. It was at least 24 hours before I cut the crotches out of all his slacks.

Blanche: You didn’t!

Dorothy: I was teaching English Lit at the time. Symbolism was my life.

If you were not an English major, then that went “Whoosh” right past you. But, for me, as an English major, the moment I heard it was pure ROFLOL.

And now that I think of it, I also enjoyed her incisive observation on why her slutty housemate, Blanche, was able to have so many love affairs with nary a pang:

Dorothy: Sluts heal quick.

Wisdom for the ages.

It hurts to lose a loved one at any age, no matter how much the death was expected due to advanced age, illness, or both. So I wish blessings for Ms. Arthur’s soul and condolences for her family and loved ones.

Update: GayPatriot is mourning, too.

Update: Eric Golub at Big Hollywood also has a remembrance of Bea Arthur.

Update, 4/30/09: Welcome, astonished readers from The Other McCain!

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smitty April 25, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I led off this Sunday’s Rule 5 post with an homage, including a YouTube montage link. I wanted to find a still from the History of the World Part I filming, where Bea is handing out the dole to the stand-up philosophers, but found no joy. I’ll edit the bit where I had your Reagan link to mention this post.
Best wishes,

CGHill April 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

“Oh. A bullshit artist.”

I can hear that voice so well….

Nomad April 27, 2009 at 9:11 am

Bea Arthur was the alpha Golden Girl
she’ll be missed

MelMaguire April 27, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I’m a former history major, now going for my master’s in criminal justice, and I thought the crack about English Lit was absolutely hysterical!

I had no idea she was a gay icon. Here and all this time I thought I was good at keeping track of this stuff…

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