Bernice Frankel.


When I was a kid, I was the tall girl in the class. Women on television were rarely as relatively tall as I was then, and rarely as sharp and witty as some of the grown-ups I knew back then, so I was drawn to Dorothy Zbornak most of all on ‘The Golden Girls’ (although I loved everyone on it), and we (mostly my older brother and I) watched a LOT of that show.

(I do wonder why she really did wear the most ridiculous outfits, though. (And so much clothing! I’ve been to Miami! That much faux satin would be horrific!))

It’s almost ridiculous to ponder someone not finding Bea(trice) Arthur funny. How could you not? Sure, she might have played some intimidatingly feminist characters, most especially the extremely groundbreaking Maude, but even if ‘women’s lib’ terrified the fuck out of you, there’s no doubt should could deliver the comedy goods and some of the best withering stares in the business.

Can’t embed this one, but here are Maude and Walter talking about Nixon v. Humphrey.

This almost made me laugh until I cried when I was a kid. Still cracks me up now.

Another excellent musical moment.

And a favourite forever.

Here she is at the Dean Martin Comedy Roast of Joan Collins, being pretty amazing (and dressed like she’s at the Grand Ol’ Opry).

On top that, she was in the Marines during the war, working as a typist, then a truck driver. Her only misconduct report was because she contracted VD, so she probably had some fun in the military.

One of my big regrets is that I never got to see her one-woman show on Broadway (or any of her other theatre roles) a few years ago. That would have made my life, I’d bet, because she was such a huge part of my growing up. If I’d actually met her, I’d probably have pulled a Rufus Wainwright (and possibly cried if I got the same response).

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