Bea Arthur’s Military Service Has Been Revealed


Golden Girl Bea Arthur may have passed away back in April of 2009 but the late comedienne is STILL finding ways to surprise us. Did you know that Bea was once a Marine in the US military? Yep, she sure was. For her entire life, Bea denied that she ever served in the military … but we now know she was not being truthful, and why. Here is a photo of the hard-nosed Bea Arthur as a young military woman and some deets about her brave service to our country:

In 1943, when she was 21 and known as Bernice Frankel, Bea Arthur enlisted in the military. Recently unearthed documents reveal she came across as a tough broad, even then. The Smoking Gun obtained the documents from her enlistment and personnel file, in which she wrote that she “heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was to join.” She also notes: “As far as hobbies are concerned, I’ve dabbled in music and dramatics.” But most interesting: A personality appraisal! An interviewing officer describes the young Ms. Frankel as “argumentative” and “over aggressive.” Under “General rating on personality,” the officer wrote: “Officious—but probably a good worker—if she has her own way!” A year after she enlisted, Bernice Frankel married fellow marine Private Robert Arthur. As she served as Bernice Arthur, her rank went from private to corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant. It seems that she served her country well — she was honorably discharged in 1945 — but her sole “misconduct” was contracting a venereal disease. Bea Arthur always denied serving in the military — maybe she didn’t want her medical history brought up?

The article I quote here is from Jezebel but you can read more HERE at The Smoking Gun’s website. To be honest … I don’t even know what to say about this. I hadn’t even heard the rumors that she may have served in the military … and, to be more honest, when I first saw this photo I thought it was a mugshot from an arrest in her youth. I can’t say I’m shocked that Bea was a Marine but … she will always be my Golden Girl. Bea Arthur managed to keep her secret in life but in death we can actually look back and be proud of her service to her country. She was a very special lady …. a very special lady, indeed.

[Source via Source]

  • Jen

    This is so awesome, and of course in 1943 a strong woman like Bea would be consided “over agressive” and “argumentative”

  • Barb

    Amazing…Makes me love her even more!

  • Jeej

    To be honest, you shouldn’t use “to be honest” more than once in an entire essay, let alone twice in one paragraph. Just sayin’.

    • @Jeej — I’m really honest.

    • terry

      I’ll inform J.P. Strunk of this.

  • g

    Julia Stiles.

  • Val 2.0

    Molly Lewis.

  • rossy

    You know, I sometimes wondered about that, & it doesn’t surprise me 1 bit. The rare interviews she gave over the years & the way she carried herself with dignity & attitude that had me thinking: military.

    They had an old motto once (I believe around WW2) that said, “You can take the man out of the marines, but not the marine out of the man.” – or words to that affect. I’m sure it’s been updated so it doesn’t sound sexist… since everybody has to be careful what they say to avoid sounding racist.

    Way to go, Maude!

  • Amanda G

    Love her and miss her. That photo looks nothing like her though LOL

  • karen

    This makes me love her even more. What an amazing person she was. I absolutely LOVE that she was so *herself* so early in her adulthood. A role model for sure.

  • stephen

    I found this clip of Miss Arthur’s final interview with Bea discussing her career and life in her own words. I think it’s for a show called, “Lunching with a Legend.”

    I’d hate for a full interview with Bea or the other legendary ladies in the clip to go unseen. I’d like to see if she final discusses her service in her final interview.