A while back, I posted on this blog the video of a wonderful interview that the Archives of American Television did with Bea Arthur a few years before she died. She shares so much about her work as an actress, but is obviously very quiet about much of her private life, right up until the time she died, when it was finally learned that she had been struggling with lung cancer for some time. Some things she might understandably not want to draw attention to, particularly the early years of her life, having lived through the Depression and the Great Wars and all the miseries that came with it.
Early in the interview, Bea Arthur is curiously asked whether she served in the Marines, though she denies it right away, saying that by 1947, she’d already left for New York to attend drama school. But actually, The Smoking Gun published an article yesterday with some of the public records showing that indeed, Bea Arthur did serve in the Marines (then under her birth name, Bernice Frankel). 21 years-old in 1943, she was one of the first in the Womens’ Reserve and worked as a truck driver and typist, though she aspired for ground aviation. That she also listed hunting with a .22 caliber rifle and “bow and arrow” as her hobbies on her military identification card should have qualified for Cracked‘s list of secretly badass celebrities published earlier this week. Because Bea Arthur really did keep it all secret!
What an interesting woman.