by Herbie J Pilato
(LB’S NOTE: TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Emeritus Herbie J Pilato wrote this awhile ago, but for some reason it never came to our attention. We’re very glad to be rectifying that situation right now!)
Before I began my contracted 18 months as a Page for NBC in the spring of 1984, my tenure with the Peacock network was several times foreshadowed. In the fall of 1982, for one, while studying Television and Film at U.C.L.A. I had a celebrity brush with actress Bea Arthur, then best-remembered as the star of TV’s iconic Maude series (CBS, 1972–1978), and soon to be recalled to fame as one of NBC’s ground-breaking senior leads in The Golden Girls (1984–1991), alongside Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.
When I first met Bea she was starring in Amanda’s (a.k.a. Amanda’s By The Sea), a failed ABC series that was a cross between the BBC’s Faulty Towers and CBS’s Newhart.
Here’s what happened:
I was walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica (past the scrumptious, now defunct Polly’s Pies) when, all of a sudden, I heard this distinctly familiar voice. I turned and there was Arthur, tall and raspy-voiced (in a later-Lucille-Ball-esque kind of way), walking with a middle-aged man who I only assumed to be her manager.
I grew up on Maude (when I wasn’t watching Happy Days, which for a time was scheduled opposite it), and though I never fully understood some of the more issue-oriented episodes of that groundbreaking series (like the earth-shattering abortion episode), I was not now about to pass up the opportunity to say hello to its iconic star.
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE