Here’s Proof That Bea Arthur Made Everything Better

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! May 13 will mark the 101st birthday (memorial) of the great Bea Arthur, one of history’s funniest sitcom stars — a classic material-elevator whose natural skills as both a comedic personality and a formally trained stage actress (appearing in shows like Fiddler On The Roof and Mame) rendered her a shining light in every medium, most notably on her two longest running television hits: Maude and The Golden Girls. 

But in honor of this remarkable woman, whose career this blog has delighted in highlighting, I want to share — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their private, non-commercial interest — access to a perhaps forgotten chapter in Bea Arthur’s sitcom legacy. It’s her three-episode stint on the seldom-discussed Dave’s World, a fairly routine patriarch-led family sitcom mostly enlivened by star Harry Anderson (of Night Court), playing the role of real-life columnist Dave Barry — on whose work the series was based — with a supporting cast that also included Shadoe Stevens, Meshach Taylor, and Patrick Warburton. It ran from 1993 to 1997 on CBS and was generally regarded as decent but unspectacular — the most common critique being that its scripts were ultimately too bland and generic, especially in comparison to the real Dave Barry’s style. However, it had a brief run in syndication, and as of this publication, its first three seasons have been put out on DVD, leaving only its final year waiting for a release…

Bea Arthur’s three-episode arc comes from this final season. She plays Mel Bloom, Dave’s late agent’s widow, who takes over her husband’s business — with Dave and Wink Martindale being her two biggest clients. It’s a great role for Arthur, for she gets to play a strong-willed busybody eager to make a mark — and she brings big laughs to an operation that, from what I’ve seen, is typically at a lower baseline. Her three entries are titled “Dave Barry, Call Your Agent,” “Touched By An Agent,” and “Bad News Barrys,” and they first aired on January 31, February 7, and February 21, 1997, respectively. The best of these three is her debut, which was written by Tom Straw and Harry Anderson. It not only boasts the funniest teleplay, granting Arthur the most opportunities to shine, but its story is also well-rooted in the series “situation,” as Dave’s career as a columnist is expectedly heating up in advance of his book. So, I offer to interested subscribers all three of these episodes as proof of Arthur’s talents — her capacity to enrich even middling sitcoms with an indelible, magnetic performance that justifies her status as a comic legend. Here’s a clip, from “Dave Barry, Call Your Agent” (directed by James Widdoes).


Happy Heavenly 101st, Bea Arthur! 



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Monday for a musical rarity!

32 thoughts on “Here’s Proof That Bea Arthur Made Everything Better

  1. God bless this talented woman. I watched “Dave’s World” occasionally but it was always middle of the road. But that scene with Bea Arthur is a hoot. She was so talented. I’d love to see these episodes. Thanks, as always, for your generosity in finding this rare stuff for us!

  2. In Canada, Beatrice Arthur was also known for a hilarious series of television commercials for Shoppers Drug Mart playing a glamorous Mrs. Santa Claus spouting one-liners.

  3. I do not remember Bea on this show but I remember Dave’s World well. We used to watch it and enjoy it for what it was: half hour of escape from reality. Audrey Meadows played Shadoe’s mother in a few episodes. Anything with Bea is going to be enjoyable – ever watch Amanda? (I think you may have done a post on that before?) Happy Birthday to Bea … and for you, keep up the awesome job!

    • Hi, Ben! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, I looked at AMANDA’S way back in 2015!

      I have emailed you at your gmail address.

  4. Hi, Jackson—
    I have a very non-commercial interest in seeing these episodes starting my very favorite actress. Thanks in advance.

  5. I would be interested in these shows. It’s great seeing Wink being silly in the clip. It’s funny that she mentioned Gleason, as I’ve read that Fred Silverman, seeing Ms. Arthur play Maude on ALL IN THE FAMILY for the first time, said “Get her! She’s like Jackie Gleason!”.

    • Hi, Eric! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your roadrunner address.

  6. This should be good!
    Please send the links to the three episodes of “Dave’s World” with Bea Arthur. Thank you.

    • Hi, Alan! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your supportourcreatives address.

  7. Hi Jackson – would love to check this out! Bea Arthur made everything she was in worth watching.

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