Angela Lansbury To Host 'CELEBRATING BEA ARTHUR' Memorial Service 9/14

On Monday, September 14, 2009, Five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury will host a memorial for friends and family of Tony and Emmy Award-winning entertainment icon Beatrice Arthur at Broadway's Majestic Theatre (247 W. 44th St.).

Directed by Mark Waldrop, "Celebrating Bea Arthur" will feature remembrances and performances from the late actress's family and friends, including Adrienne Barbeau ("Maude" co-star), Zoe Caldwell, Billy Goldenberg (Arthur's longtime accompanist), Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof lyricist), Charlie Hauck ("Maude" head writer), Norman Lear ("Maude" producer), Clinton Leupp (Miss Coco Peru), Anne Meara, Rosie O'Donnell, Chita Rivera, Daryl Roth (Bea Arthur on Broadway producer), Jerry Stiller and Rue McClanahan ("The Golden Girls").

The ceremony begins at 1 p.m. and seating is open to the general public on a first-come, first-served admission basis.

Beatrice Arthur, who began her career onstage but would later become internationally known as Maude (on TV's "Maude") and Dorothy Zbornak (on "The Golden Girls") passed away on April 25, 2009 at age 86.

Born Bernice Frankel on May 13, 1922, Beatrice Arthur appeared at Off-Broadway's Theatre de Lys in the famed production of The Threepenny Opera, which featured Arthur as Lucy Brown and Lotte Lenya as Jenny.

Ms. Arthur's Broadway career began in 1955 with the original musical Plain and Fancy and continued with roles in Seventh Heaven and Nature's Way, but it was her performance as Yente in the original staging of Fiddler on the Roof in 1964 that won the attention of audiences and critics.

She won a Tony Award two years later for her performance as Vera Charles in the original production of Jerry Herman's Mame, with Angela Lansbury in the title role. Ms. Arthur would later reprise the role of Vera on film version of Mame opposite Lucille Ball.

Following Mame, Ms. Arthur returned to Broadway only two more times: in the play The Floating Light Bulb and in her one-woman show Bea Arthur on Broadway, which was nominated for a 2002 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event.

On television, Ms. Arthur created two of the most memorable female characters in television history: the title character in the 1970s series "Maude" (a character first introduced on "All in the Family") and as the divorced substitute teacher Dorothy Zbornak on "The Golden Girls."

She was nominated for a total of 11 Emmy Awards, winning one for her work in "Maude" and another for her work on "The Golden Girls." Her most recent Emmy nomination was in 2000 for a guest appearance on "Malcolm in the Middle."

Ms. Arthur married director Gene Saks in 1950. They had two sons, Matt and Danny, both of whom will be in attendance at the September 14 memorial celebration.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Ali Forney Center, one of Ms. Arthur's most beloved charities (

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) is the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. AFC currently offers housing to 58 youths in seven residential sites, and also offers two drop-in centers, medical care, mental health treatment, HIV testing and treatment and educational and vocational assistance programs.

AFC's mission is to provide homeless LGBT youth with the support and guidance they need to become healthy, independent adults. Ali Forney was a gay youth who was murdered on the streets of NYC in 1997 at a time when there was no safe shelter for LGBT youths.

Photo Credit: Peter James Zielinski

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