“I’m not playing a role. I’m being myself, whatever the hell that is.” -Bea Arthur
When it first came out, I didn’t realize how revolutionary it was to have a television show starring four women my grandmother’s age on television, but that’s exactly what the Golden Girls was when it premiered in the USA back in 1985. Have a listen to a different take on something golden, as Art in Manila sings you their interesting indie song, Golden Dawn.
On the other hand, the four golden girls: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nyland (Betty White), Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), were telling a story that hadn’t been told on television before: that of widows and divorcées past child-bearing age whose children were all grown. Each one of them had their flaws and failings but also their own lives, strengths, personalities and desires. In short, it portrayed them not as foils, but as people.
Dorothy (Bea Arthur) was generally regarded as the smartest and strongest of the four, but also the most reliable and versatile in a crisis. It seems a little silly to say it, but shows like “Sex in the City” and “Girls” would probably have never existed if it weren’t for the Golden Girls.
Well, artist Mike Denison — who it sounds like feels exactly the same way about this show as I do — decided to pay tribute to the witty and acerbic Bea Arthur by creating a new art composition featuring the inimitable lead actress every day for a year, spawning his project “Bea A Day.”
Often featuring the other Golden Girls (especially Sophia, her mother) or her ex-husband, Stan (Herb Edelman), the Bea A Day project began on September 7th of last year and casts Bea Arthur in any number of popular culture roles, often involving both referential humor and some terrible puns. (Where “terrible” is a compliment when it comes to pun-humor.)
Some of my other punny favorites are “The Giving Bea,”
and the bizarre 3-headed knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I can’t think of any other way than “The Knights who say ‘Bea’.”
There’s also a hearkening back to Bea Arthur’s first scene-stealing TV role, where she went on All in the Family as Maude Findlay, Edith’s cousin who stood up to Archie Bunker in a way no woman ever had before. In fact, she uttered perhaps my favorite Bea Arthur line of all-time as Maude, where she said:
“Archie, you can either get up and eat breakfast, or lie there, feeding off your own fat. [Pause.] And if you choose the latter, you could probably lie there for months.”
And Mike Denison’s tribute to that is more than fitting.
This tribute project has been going for over 300 days now, and has been featured in People Magazine, on Comedy Central and other well-known places. (Of course, I only discovered it via The Daily Beast and the A.V. Club. Go figure.) But there are so many great ones I had a hard time choosing which ones to show you.
And it’s worth mentioning that some of my favorites (and many others) are for sale in various incarnations at the Bea A Day Etsy store!
There are so many great ones I’d love to show you about a dozen more!
But I won’t; go visit his site instead and see them there. I’ll leave you with this last one, which was the 100th-episode tribute to the, umm… “Bea-tles.”
I hope you enjoyed it, and have a great weekend, no matter what you’re doing or how many cheesecakes it involves!
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