Tag Archives: Golden Girls

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Arthur

13 May

BeaArthur2-smBea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel in New York City on this date in 1922, would become an American icon from the 1960’s through the 21st Century.  She would have been 91 today.

My first introduction to Arthur was in the early 1970’s when she was starring as Maude, the loud mouthed, opinionated, liberal taking on topics like race, gender, power, sexual orientation, and even abortion.  I loved this show.  Who knew I would grow up to become Maude.  Maude was a true pioneer in addressing equity and the disparities in how we treat other people.  I loved her voice of social justice, even when she would get it wrong.

When we first moved to Oregon, I was horribly depressed and hated living in Salem.  My first job here, I was accosted by a Mormon woman who came into my office and said with great sincerity: “Michael, I just want you to know I pray for your sin.”  I would like to say I handled this with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.  My reply was: “Tammy, I pray that you will stop wearing brown double knit polyester everyday.” Not a shining moment for as a social worker.

The only highlight in moving to Salem was that my husband bought us tickets to see Bea Arthur live at the Elsinore in Salem.  She made me forget my miseries, my woes, and my temporary misanthropy.  She was authentic, kind, generous, and had a mouth like a sailor — I know I had to clutch my pearls many a time during her show.

Arthur had the power to transform us all and make us laugh at our selves, laugh at the world, but yet charged us each with the obligation to make the world a better place for all marginalized and targeted people after we left the theatre. As a true feminist/social worker should, she acknowledged that everything is political: “”I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. That’s what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.”  Seeing her live is one of my top 10 memories, for which I will be forever grateful.

She channelled her phenomenol energy into so many worthy causes. She was an animal rights activist and an active advocate for civil rights for the elderly and the LGBT community. Three days after her death, all the marquees on Broadway were dimmed at 8pm. What a fitting tribute to a woman whose passing left the world a little less bright.

Happy Birthday, Betty White

17 Jan

Happy Birthday, Betty!

Happy Birthday, Betty White.  White, a National Treasure, turns 90 today.  In addition to her animal rights activism and her long successful career in film and television, she is also a proponent of equal rights for the LGBT community. White  was quoted: “Gays love old ladies. I don’t care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time—and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones—I think it’s fine if they want to get married.”  Her character of Sue Ann Nivens, the Happy Homemaker, on Mary Tyler Moore was one of my favorite roles of White’s.  And what gay man did not watch White in the Golden Girls? Years later, I’m enjoying her as the feisty mob bride on Hot In Cleveland.

Of course, I love White’s fight against misogyny with her comment:

Why do people say “Grow some balls?”  Balls are weak and sensitive!  If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding!

Brava, to our much beloved Betty White. Of course, for me she will always be the ever charming Sue Ann Nivens. Here is our Sue Ann as a “Tawny Beast.”

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