Bea Arthur, Beloved Gay Icon, 1922-2009

Golden Girls star Bea Arthur, née Bernice Frankel, died at home in Los Angeles at the age of 86 today. She passed away surrounded by family members. She will be loudly mourned by the gays.

Her striking frame, raspy voice, and taste for one-liners made her a natural subject for female impersonators. Told of her drag following, Arthur said, "I'm flattered." Her roles as Yente in Fiddler on the Roof, the outspoken Maude Finley of All in the Family and Maude, and most famously, the caustic Dorothy Zbornak of Golden Girls, gained her an avid gay audience. No funeral is planned. In wigs and wisecracks, she will live forever.

Of the four Golden Girls, Arthur is survived by Betty White and Rue McClanahan. None of the three attended costar Estelle Getty's funeral last year. White told Entertainment Tonight:

I knew it would hurt, I just didn't know it would hurt this much.. I'm so happy that she received her Lifetime Achievement Award while she was still with us, so she could appreciate that. She was such a big part of my life.

Update: The cult of Saint Beatrice has begun. Gays are posting this blasphemous Virgin Dorothy mashup in her holy memory:

Bea Arthur, Beloved Gay Icon, 1922-2009

(Photo by AP/Wally Fong)