No release date as of now, but it looks like it will be released! -- http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps...30302/1059/ENT Fabulous Bea The actress will chat and sing Saturday at the Historic Elsinore Theatre RON COWAN Statesman Journal October 3, 2005 She raised our consciousness in "Maude," tickled our funny bones in "The Golden Girls" and regaled Broadway in shows such as "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Mame" over more decades than she cares to remember. But actress Bea Arthur, 82, has more tales to tell, and she'll be doing it at the Historic Elsinore Theatre on Saturday in "An Evening with Bea Arthur and Billy Goldenberg at the Piano." The Tony and Emmy award-winning actress shares a few songs, a few laughs and a few anecdotes in a show that made it to Broadway in 2002 and has toured ever since. If you had asked her do an autobiographical (and-then-I-did-this) kind of show, Arthur wouldn't have been happy. "I would have said, 'Oh God no; you'd bore the hell out of everyone,' " she said. "I guess the thing I really worked on in this show is not boring people." That's seems an unnecessary concern for a woman who once said, "My training is total; I've done everything but stag movies and rodeos." Arthur, who received a Tony nomination for the production, credits its inception to accompanist Goldenberg, a composer and musical director who did the scores for the films "Play it Again Sam" and "Red Sky in the Morning" and wrote the show "Ballroom." "Billy has always said, 'Let's do a one-woman show, you and me and a bit of singing,' " Arthur said by phone from her California home. Arthur, perhaps a surprise to her TV fans, won a Tony for the stage musical "Mame," playing tart-tongued Vera Charles, and was a show-stealer as the matchmaker Yente in the original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof." She also played Lucy Brown in "The Threepenny Opera." "We started by putting songs together, a few songs we liked," Arthur said. "Then I just started talking. "So now it turns out to be 90 minutes. It's wonderful. It's not just completely autobiographical. "It's an entertainment where there are highs and lows, things like that. The audiences have been delicious. "It's so nice. I get such a warm feeling when I come out on stage. I feel they know me." They should, after "The Golden Girls," the Miami Beach-setsitcom about four older women sharing a home, which aired from 1985 to 1992, and the earlier "Maude," the groundbreaking tale of a feisty feminist, which ran from 1972 to 1978. The quintessential Arthur persona became known early on, as critic Richard Watts Jr. wrote in the New York Post in 1966, describing her in "Mame," oppositelongtime friend Angela Lansbury in the title role: "Miss Arthur presents a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman who is at once a terror, a scourge, the relentless voice of truth and a pleasure to have around," he wrote. That, more or less, has stuck with the deep-voiced actress for years, although she insists there is a different Arthur. Asked to describe the real Arthur, she paints a different picture. "I would have described me as a peasant," Arthur said. "I don't like pretension, and I don't like to have to get my hair and clothes done for parties. "I like to hang around, barefoot, with my dog (a doberman)." An activist for many issues, including animal rights and AIDS causes, Arthur even declines to be called a Maude. The program spun off from "All in the Family." She had been recruited by friend and producer Norman Lear to play Maude Findlay, a liberal matron who was the polar opposite of bigot Archie Bunker. "Maude" pushed the envelope, dealing with issues such as abortion (Maude got one), race relations, marijuana laws and pornography. "I have never been that politically inclined," Arthur said. "Of course, I like to think I'm politically informed. I do that with animal rights, the plight of foster children." But she wasn't like Maude, whom she called "the Joan of Arc of feminists." "Maude" will be released on DVD, although no release date is available yet. "The Golden Girls" teamed Arthur with a formidable set of actresses: Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. "We did some terrific work, we really did," Arthur said. "One friend accused me of turning sitcom into an art form. That's what we did. "We did it in front of a live audience. There were four cameras." The sitcom still endures in reruns on the Lifetime network and continues to redefine the image of an older woman. "They had sex lives, they were coiffed, they were well-groomed," Arthur said. "They had lives." As with "Maude," Arthur decided to leave at the height of the success of "The Golden Girls." Both shows ended with her departure, although the latter was briefly succeeded by "The Golden Palace," set in a Miami Beach hotel. Arthur still turns up on television on occasion, in guest roles on shows including "Malcolm in the Middle," "Futurama" and "Dave's World." Her most recent appearance, much to her chagrin, was in the "Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson." Arthur was drafted for the show on the basis that both she and Anderson are active in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "I must excuse myself," Arthur said. "This was very dirty. "I didn't think it was funny," she said of the profanity. Otherwise, television rarely is on her radar. "I must tell you, I don't watch much TV," Arthur said. "I watch all the news shows; I like the old movies. I watch 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'The Daily Show.' " After a lengthy career, she feels little motivation to pursue more than occasional roles and do her touring show. "Success is no longer a motivation," she said. Asked what was her favorite accomplishment in a career that stretches back to the 1940s, Arthur readily replied, " 'The Threepenny Opera' was to me, the highlight of my life. "That was in 1954." Then she quickly added, "Oh my God! I've been around so long."