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Staff Sargeant Bernice Frankel (a.k.a. Bea Arthur)


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Very interesting information, photos, and documentation have been released relating to Bea Arthur's military service during the Second World War:

 

Bea Arthur was a truck-driving marine!

 

 

DECEMBER 9--While she strangely denied serving in the armed forces, military records show that the actress Bea Arthur spent 30 months in the Marine Corps, where she was one of the first members of the Women's Reserve and spent time as a typist and a truck driver.

 

 

The "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" star, who died last year at age 86, enlisted in early-1943 when she was 21 (and known as Bernice Frankel). In a February 1943 letter included in her Marine personnel file, Arthur gave military officials a brief account of her prior employment as a food analyst at a Maryland packing plant, a hospital lab technician, and an office worker at a New York loan company.

 

Arthur was due to start a new job, but she "heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was to join." While she hoped for an assignment in ground aviation, Arthur noted that she was "willing to get in now and do whatever is desired of me until such time as ground schools are organized." She added, "As far as hobbies are concerned, I've dabbled in music and dramatics."

 

As part of the enlistment process, Arthur underwent interviews that resulted in the production of "personality appraisal" sheets. One such analysis described her conversation as "Argumentative" and her attitude and manner as "Over aggressive." In a handwritten note, the Marine interviewer remarked, "Officious--but probably a good worker--if she has her own way!"

 

BeaMilitary1.jpg

 

Arthur is pictured here in an official Marine photo taken shortly after her enlistment. A second undated portrait can be seen above.

 

BeaMilitary2.jpg

 

Arthur, who was fingerprinted during enlistment, started basic training in March 1943 and was initially assigned as a typist at Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C.. Over the following two years, Arthur was stationed at Marine Corps and Navy air stations in Virginia and North Carolina. During her military career, Arthur's rank went from private to corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant, the title she held upon her honorable discharge in September 1945, according to one document.

 

On a Marine qualification card that included a section titled "Talent for furnishing public entertainment," Arthur is credited for "piano & organ 13 years" and "contralto-orchestra." Her "active hobbies" included hunting with a .22 caliber rifle and "bow and arrow."

 

A year after her enlistment, Arthur married a fellow Marine, Private Robert Aurthur, in a ceremony presided over by a city judge in Ithaca, New York. She then formally had her named changed in military records to Bernice Aurthur. It would change again, to Bea Arthur, as she started her post-military career as an actress.

 

The military records, released in response to a Freedom of Informaton Act request, include a single "misconduct report" filed against Arthur while she was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. That misconduct determination stemmed from Arthur's contracting of a venereal disease, which left her "incapacitated for duty" for five weeks in late-1944. As a result, her pay was reduced for that period.

 

For some reason, Arthur did not speak about her time with the Marines. In fact, in a videotaped interview (excerpted below) conducted as part of an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences archives project, Arthur flatly denied serving in the military. When an interviewer said that she had read somewhere that Arthur had once joined the Marines, the actress answered, "Oh, no. No." She then continued a chronological review of her life by noting that, in 1947, she enrolled in dramatic school in New York.

 

 

I could have sworn Bea spoke about this during her A & E Biography. Her service, not VD. I wonder if that was why she wasn't as forthcoming as she could have been about it. Nevertheness, the documents are attached below!

BeaMilitary3.jpg

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  • 4 months later...
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  • 1 year later...

The great opening number from The Beatrice Arthur Special:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xraPpeNi9hE

Funny, Greg in Hollywood is showcasing three numbers from this special, where Bea had guests like Rock Hudson and Wayland Flowers and Madame. Seems the special was NUMBER TWO for that week, BUT, number two from the bottom, the second lowest rated program, of that week. :lucydisgust:

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Funny, Greg in Hollywood is showcasing three numbers from this special, where Bea had guests like Rock Hudson and Wayland Flowers and Madame. Seems the special was NUMBER TWO for that week, BUT, number two from the bottom, the second lowest rated program, of that week. :lucydisgust:

 

Stange, never thought of Ms. Arthur as 'busty', or is that a 'chalkmark'????

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Stange, never thought of Ms. Arthur as 'busty', or is that a 'chalkmark'????

 

She was as Maude when she was much heavier and therefore more... "impressive": they did references to them (jokingly, of course) all the time, especially when talking about where Carole (her daughter) "inherited" hers from! :D

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Adrienne Barbeau played Bea's daughter "Carol" on Maude.

 

 

Thanks, Brock; guess you know now I was not a fan of MAUDE; never saw even one episode; on the other hand, watched the The Golden Girls, one of my husband's favorites; hardest I EVER heard him laugh in our 26 'short' years together.

 

This is NOT to say I didn't like Bea or Adrienne; like them both. Adrienne, I think, starred in one of the most scary films I've ever watched - THE FOG, 1980; it was great.

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Thanks, Brock; guess you know now I was not a fan of MAUDE; never saw even one episode; on the other hand, watched the The Golden Girls, one of my husband's favorites; hardest I EVER heard him laugh in our 26 'short' years together.

 

This is NOT to say I didn't like Bea or Adrienne; like them both. Adrienne, I think, starred in one of the most scary films I've ever watched - THE FOG, 1980; it was great.

Funny, all this talk of Adrienne Barbeau and we haven't seen her for a while, yet, tonight, i see a promo for this week's REVENGE where she plays Madeleine Stowe's M O T H E R of all things. :lucydisgust:

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Funny, all this talk of Adrienne Barbeau and we haven't seen her for a while, yet, tonight, i see a promo for this week's REVENGE where she plays Madeleine Stowe's M O T H E R of all things. :lucydisgust:

 

Ooh! I may have to watch Revenge for the first time ever. With this, and Argo, we may be in the midst of a Barbeau Comeback!

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  • 5 months later...

Bea's "dry and tasteless cupcakes" were "moist and delicious for art afficiandos at a Christies auction in NY tonight -- selling for over $1.9 million!

 

(NSFW) Auction: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/paintings/john-currin-bea-arthur-naked-5684049-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5684049&sid=8dcce974-4d4b-4cdb-9c85-0aee67cac67d

 

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