Girl Bea Arthur is furious that a routine operation performed on her
last year made headlines as a “cancer scare,” with her three
co-stars praying for her life at her hospital bedside.
cannot tell you how it made me feel,” Bea revealed during her
recent Australian visit.
so cheap, so demeaning—anybody can send a tip-off to these sleazy
magazines in America and get paid $100. Obviously, someone saw me in
hospital—I made no secret of it—and next thing, it’s
plastered all over one of the scandal rags that I had suffered a cancer
it went on to say that all of the Girls were at the hospital praying
for me. Betty White was supposed to have brought me a teddy bear and
Estelle Getty baked me her special chocolate chip cookies.
Estelle read that, she said, ‘I don’t even know how to bake!’
“They weren’t even there and there was no scare. It was
an out-and-out lie.”
says Bea was that her gynacologist recommended she have a hysterectomy
as her uterus was enlarged and would eventually cause her pain.
her contempt for the story, Bea has no plans to sue.
hell with it!” she shrugs, and laughs that distinctive, throaty
laugh. “It’s all so cheesy. Next week, they’ll be
on to something else.”
flesh, Bea seems softer, smaller and shyer than her commanding alter
ego Dorothy Zbornak, although she insists they are both “bubble
prickers—we both see through the nonsense”.
for a flight later that day to London, she also looked somewhat less
glamorous than the immaculately groomed and coiffed Dorothy.
of her two sons, 31-year-old actor Matt Saks—who joined Bea for
a brief holiday—reprimanded his mother for her in-flight attire
of Wily Coyote sweatshirt, track pants and bare feet.
have all these great dresses to wear to dinner and look what you put
on for a photo!” he marvelled.
at the panoramic harbour view from her Sydney hotel suite, Bea wished
she could stay longer but was committed to taping a show in London with
British comedian Bruce Forsythe.
that, her future is undecided. For the first time in seven years, Bea
Arthur is a free agent.
she taped her final episode of The Golden Girls (to be screened
on the Seven Network around September), in which she is swept off her
feet, up the aisle and out of the Emmy-award winning series by Naked
Gun star Leslie Nielsen.
Girls – Estelle Getty (as Dorothy’s mother, Sophia), Rue
McClanahan ( as Blanche) and Betty White (as Rose) – will be spun
off into their own series, entitled Golden Towers, in which
they will run a hotel. Bea plans to make guest appearances.
it was a beautiful wedding!” she chuckled, recalling her last
day as a Golden Girl. “I’m delighted they didn’t kill
me off in a fire or something awful.
Nielsen plays Blanche’s father’s kid brother, Lucas Hollingsworth.
He comes to visit but Blanche has a hot date that night so she talks
Dorothy into going out with him…”
a screen bridegroom as Leslie apparently makes, Bea had some serious
reservations about her co-stars love of practical jokes—in particular,
for making loud offensive noises with his trademark “whoopee”
know, Leslie is such a nice man and so intelligent. I don’t know
what this obsession of his is all about,” Bea pondered, shaking
seen him do it on TV before—he makes those noises every other
minute. Oh please, it’s so offensive1
when he arrived on the set, I said to him, ‘I’m not shaking
hands with you – I want you to stay away from me!’ And you
know, he never once used that thing in front of me!”
nothing but wonderful memories of The Golden Girls but has
no doubt she made the right decision to leave. “I’ve been
doing sitcoms for exactly 20 years, starting with Maude. I
feel my life has been spent in a little box.
I decided to leave while The Golden Girls was still nice and
fresh and successful. At my age (she will turn 66 next month) and with
the emotional and financial stability I have achieved, I feel it’s
time to stop and do what I want. What that is, I don’t know yet.”
after spending so many hours a week together on set, Bea said the Girls
did not socialize. In fact, she insists, she had no social life at all.
get home, eat and fall into bed. On Saturdays, I’d have a shower
but stay in my pyjamas all day.
I saw friends, it would only be on Sundays. And if I had a week off,
I’d do the laundry. That was my life.”
to say, her workload put a wet blanket on Bea’s love life, too.
theater and film director Gene Saks in 1979, after a lengthy marriage,
and if you question Bea as to whether there is a special man in her
life now, you will get a polite but succinct: “Nope!”
adds with a wicked laugh: “And certainly not Leslie Nielsen!”