Yesterday I said goodbye to a friend. Later in the day, I learned of another death: Maude - Dorothy - Vera, or perhaps just Bea. I didn't know her personally, but almost felt like I did.
All the tributes that will be lavished on Miss Arthur, who died yesterday at the age of 86, will extol her impeccable comic timing. Her ability to detonate a joke, to momentarily harness a punch line before releasing at full force, brought her Emmy-winning success in two groundbreaking sitcoms: Norman Lear's 1970s classic "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," launched in 1985 and no doubt making somebody crack up in rerun land as you're reading this. Of course there was also her role as Vera Charles in Mame, both on Broadway and in the classic Lucille Ball film version. Whereever you saw Beatice Arthur, you saw a classy performance. I'm sure you will hear Betty White and Norman Lear and Angela Lansbury and many others saw nice things about Bea - and they will all be correct. She was one of a kind. She will be missed.
If you have never seen a Beatrice Arthur performance, the last paragraph should get you motivated to go out and rent one or go to youtube and see what you might find. You will surely be entertained!