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Beatrice Arthur (1922-2009)

I remember being on the subway one day eavesdropping on a conversation. A man in his early 20s was telling a woman he was with that when he was younger, no show could annoy his father more than the pioneering '70s show Maude, starring Bea Arthur, who passed away April 25 at the age of 87.

Bea Arthur's character, Maude, was the polar opposite of her television cousin, subservient Edith Bunker of All in the Family. No wonder your average man would feel threatened by Maude — she identified as a feminist (a first for television?), she had a commanding, sarcastic manner, and she didn't suffer fools gladly. Maude, the show, tackled issues like abortion, the Vietnam War, and divorce.

Arthur went on to reprise her popularity as an icon (this time, as a hip older woman) in the more lighthearted (but no less feminist) series The Golden Girls, beloved by women and gay men alike. In the following video, she shows she continued to be a badass by starring in a geriatric version of Sex and the City, which, if you think of it, was simply the younger-woman version of The Golden Girls! Talented, tough, funny — and not above making fun of herself. You will be missed, Bea!

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