It started innocently enough. Chrissy Teigen mentioned the loveliness of the name Bea.
If I had a kid, I would totally name her Bea after the sassy, talented actress Bea Arthur. ♥ pic.twitter.com/uADo5dCyOH— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) February 21, 2019
Her mentions rapidly filled with people sharing gifs of Bea Arthur, causing the legendary actress to trend on Twitter. Most were baffled by her appearance in the little box on the left side of their Twitter feed. They did not know why Arthur was suddenly everywhere, but they were here for it.
Unlike the John Wayne uproar this week, Arthur’s appearance on social media highlighted a warm, caring person who served her country and others before, during, and after her rise to fame.
On February 18, 1943, young Bernice Frankel enlisted in the US Marine Corps as a Women’s Reservist. By the time she left service in 1945, the now-married Arthur attained the rank of Staff Sargeant and worked as a truck driver and dispatcher.
After roles on and off Broadway, Arthur took the role of Maude Findlay in Norman Lear’s sitcom All in the Family. Her liberal viewpoints and sharp tongue put her at odds with the show’s patriarch Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and led to her own spin-off in the 1970s: Maude.
Of course, the 1980s brought us Arthur as liberal and forward-thinking retiree Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls. The real-life Arthur’s ideologies echoed those of her onscreen persona, pushing safe sex, protecting animals from abuses, and embracing the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2003, Arthur was privately battling cancer but still lent her celebrity — and one woman show — to the Ali Forney Center in New York City. The struggling LGBTQ+ youth shelter was saved by Arthur’s appearance and her media mentions of the facility before, during, and after it.
After Arthur’s death in 2008, she left $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center, allowing it to build a long-term residence for LGBTQ+ youth pushed out of their homes by angry families.
So let’s bask in the celebration of Bea Arthur, feminist, badass, philanthropist, and the sexiest woman Deadpool has ever laid eyes upon.
Image sources (in order of posting): Disney ABC Domestic Television, Marvel Comics