Hello! And welcome to the new section of G.L.O.C. called “Gorgeous Ladies We Love,” where we discuss topical news about awesome ladies who have paved the way for us, whether they are old-school comediennes who have become national treasures (seriously, one of these days there is going to be a National Treasure sequel starring Nicolas Cage, and Betty While will have to be rescued), successful women we love who are currently doing their thing on their own terms, or ladies we actually know who are on their way to superstardom (so, you know, all of us).
Today’s special lady is BEA ARTHUR. I wasn’t actually planning to write about someone who passed away for my first post because a) I really don’t want to talk about any of the Golden Girls dying since it hurts too much, and b) unless you’re Tupac or Michael Jackson, usually when you’re dead, you’re dead, end of story. Leave it to mothereffing Bea Arthur to one-up Michael Jackson though, right? Because The Smoking Gun just discovered that Arthur was secretly a Marine, enlisted from 1943-45. After she left the military, she refused to discuss it and denied that she ever served. What??
We really didn’t need any more proof that Bea was badass, but holy crap, this is amazing. First of all, the Marines are no joke. I say this based exclusively on what I saw on HBO’s The Pacific, which you need to see because it was fantastic. But Bea was one of the first women who volunteered to serve in the Women’s Reserve when the opportunity became available, saying that when she “heard that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, [I] decided the only thing to do was to join,” and she spent two and a half-years in the the Corps, working her way up to Staff Sergeant. And just like Dorothy Zbornak and Maude Findlay, she didn’t take no guff. Her personal military reviews noted that she was “Argumentative” and her attitude was “Over aggressive.” Another said she was “Officious–but probably a good worker–if she has her own way!” “Argumentative” and needing to have “her own way”? Pretty sure she took those reviews as a compliment.
Arthur died in 2009, taking these military “secrets” with her. I can hardly eulogize her properly here, because there’s no way to explain how her brand of comedy influenced a generation of girls like me. The only thing I can say is that as 8-, 9-, 10-year-old girls watching her on TV back in the day, we never saw timidity or weakness, those traits weren’t even on her radar as a performer. And clearly they weren’t on her radar as a human either.
I guess there’s one more reason why we shouldn’t have written about Bea for our first ever Ladies We Love post: she’s going to be hard to top.
Liz Black has written and directed sketch comedy in NYC and is currently a writer for TheFABLife.com. She also has a food and comedy and pop culture blog called whoisliz.wordpress.com and she enjoys smoking french fries.