Bea's Lifetime Chat Transcript

A chat with Bea Arthur. This chat took place on May 29th 2001.

Lifetime Host: Bea Arthur is here! Welcome!

Bea Arthur: Well hello everybody, are you all there?

Laamtjrs: Which episode of the Golden Girls was your favorite?

Bea: I really think the one in which my mother, Sophia, entered us in the Mother Daughter beauty pagaent at Shady Pines. And where in the talent section we did Sonny & Cher doing "I Got You Babe." It really was quite wonderful. Judy Evans, our costumer, did a wonderful job, she had Estelle in a tiny fur like jacket with a black moustache...

Jeanniebeanieus: Bea, do you enjoy the stage as much as television work?

Bea: For us it was really the same, because we did the show in front of a live audience, it was like being on stage. It was not filmed, we did it with four cameras without stopping. In a theater you have that many more seats, so that many more people, and they are feeding you, telling you how far you can go or what you can do.

Lifetime Host: Was Sophia like your own mother?

Bea: Oh God now! Is anyone's mother like that? I don't think so! I think the mother-daughter between Estelle and me was one made in comedy heaven.

Alphabet_39301: Is your personality anything like Dorothy's?

Bea: Yes....a little bit, I think I am a bubble-pricker... I don't like anything phony.

Richmondstreet6151: Has the popularity of The Golden Girls, across the world, astounded you? I live in the UK and dedicated a Web site to the show -- and since then I've realized just how many people adore the show!

Bea: It's just incredible, truly. I'm here now in Chicago doing my own show, and I think Golden Girls is shown three hours a day here, and everybody loves it.

Glassbell_aol: Ms. Arthur, you have said you see no point in reunion shows, but acting-wise, would you find it easy to step back into a role such as Maude?

Bea: Yes, but I have to ask you for what purpose? I don't understand your question. You see I feel we did the best work we could possibly do, I don't think the writing could be any better, so why go back to it? Always leave them wanting more.....

Poanick: Do you like enjoy working with Betty and Rue and Estelle?

Bea: Oh yes, oh God yes, certainly! I've been blessed with both shows, with that and with Maude, working with terrific writers and directors. We are very lucky.

Maresydotes63: Bea, you look better than ever! What is your secret?

Bea: Oh I love you for that, but I don't see how or why! I mean, I've lost quite a bit of weight since I did Maude, but I don't see myself looking better, I think I look older. Because I am!

Pozinsav: What made you get involved in the HIV/AIDS cause?

Bea: Well because so many of my friends either died or were HIV affected. I don't think any of us in the business has been un-effected. Too many people have been hurt by this. you had to get involved in it. Except for one thing, I no longer do benefits for research, I do benefits to make sure the people who are infected are taken care of are treated, and fed and housed, and their lives made a little easier.

Chcgomatt: Ms. Arthur, will you be releasing a CD of the songs you sing in "And then there's Bea"?

Bea: No, possibly later, after we've gone to Broadway. But right now I would see no reason for doing it. Let people come to the show. And we are touring right through the middle of January 2002.

Wennfreak: Bea, saw you at the cubs game the other day! You were great! Do you do things like that often?

Bea: LOL! That was a first! I never, ever thought I'd be doing anything like that, it was such fun. I'd never even been to Wrigley Field. I never even enjoyed baseball that much, but I loved being there, the crowd was lovely, and they all sang with me!

Classy_magnolia: Did you always want to be an actress?

Bea: Oh yes! Except I really wanted to be a small little blonde musical type in the movies. I wanted to be a starlet.

Mandytokarek: Have you been enjoying your tour?

Bea: Oh yes, but you know it is still very early, this is only our fourth city. Unfortunately opening night in Minneapolis I fell of the stage.

Lifetime Host: Are you ok?

Bea: I am OK, I really was very lucky. I thought I was making an exit onto a wing, the Gutherie is an unusual stage, I saw lights and thought it was where I was supposed to go. But it wasn't. Now, first we are going to Savannah, then we are going to Louisville, KY, but we have a week off.

Glassbell_aol: Ms. Arthur, are your dogs traveling with you on your tour?

Bea: Oh God no! I have two enormous Dobermans, they couldn't possibly fly with me. I have a very good friend taking care of them.

Postforest: What made you decide to go ahead with a one-woman show?

Bea: It's something that people had been talking about and trying to get me interested in. I have decided that I don't want to do any more episodic television. An occasional spot is fine. I did a thing on Malcolm in the Middle which I loved. But I've been doing it most of my adult life, and I like the idea of a one woman show, because it's something I can do when I want to , and not to it when I don't want to do it. It's a very small operation, there are five of us traveling, and I like working with different audiences, seeing how different it is from one night to the next. We just left Florida and now we're in Chicago. It's interesting to see different ages. Down in Florida it was an older audience, and it was interesting to see how they responded to things compared to other audiences, it's been very interesting.

Lisad_19: Ms. Arthur, Golden Girls has changed the way the public views the 50+ age group. How do you feel about Dorothy being a role model to so many women?

Bea: Well I love it, but I tell you, when I first read the very first script sent to me, I though it was one of the funniest, most literate, most adult things I had ever read. I didn't stop to think it was for older women, I just thought it was one funny, funny script. But of course, it's very nice to have women realize that women our age can be attractive and well groomed and wear fabulous clothes and earrings, and have a sex life. I think it's wonderful.

Lucyricardo62368: why did you get involved with animals?

Bea: Because I just had to. When you see horror around you, you have to do something to get rid of it.

Sleuthspec: What would you say was the most embarrassing thing that happened on the set of Golden Girls?

Bea: I don't think there was ever an embarrassment, there was such love going back and forth between the audience and us, that nothing was embarrassing. There were one or two times when I couldn't go on because I broke up from laughing, but other than that, there was nothing embarrassing.

Classy_magnolia: Who were you role models growing up?

Bea: role models, in the business? In theater? All the little MGM little blond starlets, June Allyson, and that crowd. And of course Mae West when I was very, very young, I thought she was the end. Bette Davis, the usual. Bette Davis was really the top one. And Tululah Bankhead, when I first went to theater and saw her. I liked outrageous people.

Mleeleepe: How did you manage to balance your time between friends, family, and acting?

Bea: Truthfully I don't know that I did. I really don't know. That's another reason that I don't want to do any more series. It really took up more time than I should have allotted to it. With young children...oh I don't know. You talk about quality time as opposed to quantity time....I just did the best I could, that's all I'll say.

Lisad_19: what is your favorite aspect of Dorothy?

Bea: Her bubble-pricking, again, seeing the ridiculousness of people and things. Also I like that she is a very decent human being.

Glassbell_aol: Ms. Arthur, what was it like for your children growing up with "Maude" for their mother?

Bea: I don't know what to say, I don't think they saw that much of the show. We made the move from New York to LA, so I think it must have been a wonderful experience for them, and in certain ways not so nice in having to give up friends back east. I think they enjoyed it. I know they loved Golden Girls and are very supportive of what I am doing now.

Pecanflower1:Z You have so many fans who absolutely ADORE you, has that ever been a problem for you?

Bea: Just twice I made the mistake of getting involved, and I'm very, very sorry I ever did that. Because it's a burden now dealing with a few people who feel that I'm a part of their lives which I am not.

Stra0420: Bea where did you grow up ?

Bea: In a very, very small town on the eastern shore of Maryland.

Mageborn12000: Were there any social or political aspects of Maude that you disagreed with?

Bea: No, no. I was never that involved in anything political actually. A lot of people regarded me as the Joan of Arc of the feminist movement, but I really wasn't. But I did like the fact that we did a lot of good in presenting problems that had not been tackled before on television.

Scrtrist: What do you do in your spare time (if you have any!)

Bea: I love cooking, I love reading, I love anything that doesn't take too much exercise! There is always something to do. Life is filled with a lot of stuff, you know. There is never a dull moment.

Cjovanoski: Whats your favorite cheesecake?

Bea: Do you know something? Now this goes to the grave with you -- I hate cheesecake!

Lifetime Host: How did you manage to eat all that cheesecake???

Bea: You do what you have to do, you know?!? And there was a lot of cheesecake I tell you !

Richcom70: How many takes were there when rose told the "shooting herring out of a cannon" story?

Bea: I can't answer that, I don't know, Oh Lord! It was a great show it really was. And I miss Stan so know Herb died. He was such a wonderful actor. And I loved that relationship too.

Fatcat3698: Are you considering Broadway again, as in plays?

Bea: Yes, if something wonderful came around. But it might not, in which case I have my lovely one woman show which I am really enjoying.

Jeanniebeanieus: Do you find the pace exhilarating or somewhat exhausting?

Bea: It's very exhilarating. But now we are ostensibly doing the same show every day. But we are adding to it, it's a work in progress, so it's very exciting. You find some things don't work so you delete those and add other things.

Glassbell_aol: Ms. Arthur, it has been widely reported that you have sometimes been billed as "Jane Ross," and that you were once a guest star on an episode of "Star Trek" in 1966. Yet it seems these reports are incorrect. Are they?

Bea: No, never ! Somebody else asked me that! I don't even know what you are talking about!

Glassbell_aol: Ms. Arthur, there is a running gag by Maude, and later by Dorothy, in which you flail your arms in frustration and say, "Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllll you?" or "Give me thaaaaaaaaaatttt!" This seems like a classic gag-- did it have origins in vaudeville?

Bea: I was never in vaudeville. I don't know where I got that, but it strikes me as very funny.

Sportangel007: What is your most proud accomplishment, on or off screen?

Bea: I guess having two kids who are bright and articulate and have great humor and are decent.

Womanwithquirks: Bea, was "Dorothy" your first choice in characters to portray?

Bea: Oh no, that was presented to me. In fact, I'll never forget that because the script said "For Dorothy, a Bea Arthur type".

Mageborn12000: Who are some of your favorite musical composers?

Bea: Julie Styne, Sy Coleman, Kurt Weill, and of course my darling Billy Goldenberg, who is doing the show with me... Marilyn & Alan Bergman.

Toyboxnc: Are there any television shows you watch regularly or do you watch it at all?

Bea: Yes, I watch them now, when I was doing the show I'd never watch them, because I was afraid I would say, Oh, why did I do that or look that way? And I thought it would cripple me. I do watch now and Maude and I must say I think they look good. I still do say, oh why did I do that? But that's one of the nice things about doing a stage show, if something doesn't work out, you have the luxury of working on it over time.

Mageborn12000: Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

Bea: No, I never have. And I hate autobiographies, I don't know why. Why should I, maybe Einstein should have, but....I don't know. Plus I am in awe of writers, I could never do it. I think they are really the kings, they are the ones who should be getting most of the credit.

Ashleygreen2000: Is there someone in particular that you haven't had the opportunity to work with yet that you'd like too?

Bea: Hmm. No, I can't really say that....I'm sure after we have finished our conversation I'll think of someone and say, oh why didn't I say that? But I've been so damned lucky, we did a Maude once with John Wayne, and once with Henry Fonda. I've been very lucky working so many wonderful people.

Map_06516: Who designs your wardrobe? I think it is classy and chic!

Bea: I'm so upset, Judy Evans was our wonderful costumer, and she decided to retire, and she now lives in Washington State. I miss her terribly, there is nobody like her. Not only in terms of making spectacular outfits, but she was so into the character of each person. The way she dressed Betty was so different from the way she dressed Blanche, or my mother, or me. She was wonderful.

Bea: Yes and no. When you are working with someone it's like family, you are together every day. Then we go do our own thing, we stay in touch by phone. It's not a close thing, I adore all of them, but I don't see them that much.

Sarahjbfan: Do you have a favorite line of dialogue that still sticks out in your mind?

Bea: I wish you had sent me this question a week ago I would have thought of something! Everything was so delicious!

Ironicwit: You've spoken of your middle-aged Cinderella story. Do you think it's best to have a little chronological maturity before achieving stardom?

Bea: Gee I don't know. I don't know how to understand. You mean is Britney Spears going to continue being wonderful and popular. I don't know how to answer that. It happens when it happens. But I was doing a lot of theater work when I was young, in and around New York. It's just that I wasn't really well known until I started in television in 72.But I wasn't really a late bloomer, I was just discovered later on. Experience does of course help. Every time you perform you learn a little bit more.

Smouthone: Did you ever have them rewrite any lines during golden girls, or were you happy with the dialog?

Bea: Well no, it was really give and take - also true with Maude - if one of us felt something was not quite right, we'd discuss it with the writer or the director. We were really part of a very democratic organization in both cases.

Messiah072475: If you hadn't become an actress, what would you have probably done?

Bea: I think possibly be a vet. I really don't know. I never thought about it one way or another.

Scrtrist: Ms. Arthur, do you believe you're work reaches and affects the younger audience? (I'm 16 and love the GG)

Bea: Oh yes! Kids love it, children 4, 5 and 6. Because it's so anti-establishment, all ages love it. Which was also true of Maude.

Anjilica_b: Out of everyone you've worked with so far, whom did you most enjoy working with?

Bea: Hmmm. I guess Angela Lansbury. I don't know though, I look at the old Maude series now, and say what a wonderful bunch of actors we were, Bill Macy, Conrad Bain and Rue McClanahan.

Classy_magnolia: What character did you play that most resembled you?

Bea: I would say Dorothy. Or maybe the one I would most want to emulate.

Allyseoster: Was the episode where "Dorothy" has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome personal to you?

Bea: Oh no, not at all. That was Susan Harris, who wrote the show, a great deal of it, did suffer from it, so she wrote something about it, because at that time it was really unknown. I don't know if people even understand it now.

Justlikeheaven_13: Hello, Ms. Arthur! What would you say is your personal life philosophy? What do you say has kept you so wonderful and vibrant?

Bea: I guess just, I don't know, I didn't know I was that vibrant, I just love being alive, and I love people, and I find something wonderful everyday. Some people say I'm only happy when I'm working, or not working, I'm happy whether i"m working or not, my animals, my kids, anything. What did Mame say, "Life's a banquet, but some poor sons of bitches...." I don't know you'll have to get the exact quote. But it's true.

Olebron2000: What do you think about today's sitcoms???

Bea: I tell you I haven't watched that much of it. I watch a lot of news shows and I love Nick at Night, and the Comedy Channel. I think the Daily Show is brilliant. I love Celebrity Death Match or whatever that it. I like "Malcolm in the Middle" very much, and "Frasier." Some of them are wonderful. Let's not forget "Seinfeld" and there are a number of them. I do love waking up in the middle of the night and watching those old, old....even "Gilligan's Island" is on, not that I ever watched it. But I love watching all those old shows.

Star_lite_72: How old were you when you first began singing?

Bea: Oh God, you mean at home? I think I always sang, I always used to listen to old Bessie Smith records, and Kate Smith. And Billie Holiday. Before television when there was radio.

Beverlyxxx: Did you find Rose's St. Olaf stories unbearable sometimes?!!

Bea: LOL! No, I thought they were wonderful. They were so bizarre, I loved that!

Psychologist2b: Did you have as much fun in Mame as it looked?

Bea: The movie was not a pleasant experience. I enjoyed the stage show so much, but I didn't enjoy the movie. I adore Lucy but thought she was miscast. She's a clown, she wasn't this patrician lady, Angela was so wonderful. So I think the thing worked better on the stage than it did as a movie. It was written for the stage and I think that's where it should have stayed.

Goldengirlskatie: I've heard that there was a lot of practical joking on the set of Golden Girls. What are some of your favorite memories of the joking that went on backstage?

Bea: I hate to say this, I don't think there was any joking backstage, I don't remember any. We were all too involved with the work. The work ethic was so wonderful.

Lifetime Host: We have time for one more question...

Nuttybutter2002: What is the one thing you have always wanted to do but haven't done it yet?

Bea: The only one I wanted to do that I didn't was Gypsy, but by the time they got around to asking me, everybody in the world had played it, so I thought now is not the time. Although I do one of the numbers in my show. Thank you so very much!

Lifetime Host: Thank you all for joining us!

©2001 Lifetime Entertainment Services 1