Sad news from showbiz this weekend: CBC is reporting actress Bea Arthur has died.
While most people will probably remember her for her mainstream roles in Maude and The Golden Girls, geeks will remember her for deliciously snarky, yet vulnerable performance as the Femputer in Futurama, and, as aweful as it sounds for her to have sullied herself this way: the Star Wars Christmas Special.
While I'm among the legions that enjoy slagging the Christmas Special, I have to admit Arthur did a pretty good job as the bartender in the Cantina. Not as good as Richard Pryor in his comic variety series (his freak out when he sees "the devil" in his bar is a scream), but good none-the-less. Grumbling away bar-side, I could buy that she was a bartender in a two-fisted saloon enduring life under the Empire. Too bad she couldn't have been given the role in a decent installment of the franchise, rather than the one Lucas has done his best to wall-up and forget for the past 30 years. Along with the animated Boba Fett segment, Arthur's turn as the bar tender was quite watchable... until the singing started. Truly, the power of the Dark Side is everywhere.
And lastly, I'll give her a nod for her contribution to fantasy in mainstream culture... I think above all other parts, I'll remember Arthur for her role as the flamboyant Mrs. Claus in the Christmas TV ads for Shoppers Drugmart (a Canadian drug store chain) back in the 80's. I can still remember her flipping a boa over her shoulder and calling Santa her "sweet patootie".
Bea Arthur was 86.