Note from MGMT: Our darling NYC correspondent, Skipabeet, had the opportunity to attend a Bea Arthur memorial this week, and she’s here to share her thoughts about this phenomenal woman.
A memorial was held for Bea Arthur yesterday afternoon at the Majestic Theatre in Manhattan, although the word ‘memorial’ was often not used, as many friends and family explained that Bea had specifically requested no memorial be held in her honor when becoming ill. Bea Arthur passed away on April 25th 2009 at the age of 86.
The event was hosted by Angela Lansbury who looked as beautiful as ever in a white pant suit and heels, which didn’t keep her from opening the event with a song. Lansbury starred with Arthur in the original Broadway production of Mame in 1955. Other speakers at the affair included Rosie O’Donnell, Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne, Miss Coco Peru, and Rue McClanahan who played Blanche in the hit television series The Golden Girls. Many told heart-warming stories of their time with Bea, including a short speech by each of her sons. Bea’s love for comedy was not forgotten, however, and many stories kept the mood of the event quite light and humorous. Rue told a story of the first time her husband introduced himself to Bea, to which Bea replied, “Rue. Rue . . . I love Rue. That Betty is a cunt.” Here she was referring to Betty White, who played Rose on The Golden Girls. Betty was not in attendance.
The event included a video montage of Bea’s life long work including film, television, Broadway, off-Broadway, one woman shows, even photos from her childhood and her time spent at the New School acting with other greats such as Walter Matthau and her later husband, Gene Saks.
Donations in Bea’s name can be made to The Ali Forney Project to which she dedicated much time and money to helping LGBT adolescents find housing and other assistance. A new residential center which is currently in the works will be named after Arthur and the 12 rooms used to house homeless LGBT individuals will be named after the various characters she played.
Additionally, Bea was a very big supporter of PETA.
Rest in peace, Bea, and thank you for being a friend.