Here's how Bea Arthur got her own show after All In The Family

“It was time to have somebody on the show that would kill Archie... verbally."

Before she was tough-talking Maude Findlay on Maude, Bea Arthur was tough-talking Maude Findlay on All In The Family. Of the conception of Maude, creator Norman Lear said, “It was time to have somebody on the show that would kill Archie...verbally; that could destroy him.” So, Norman Lear created the character of Maude, who had known Archie already for years by the time she arrived on the show, and certainly didn’t have anything good to say about him. 

While it wasn’t the original intent to give Arthur a spinoff, the realization was as close to immediately as you could imagine. Lear said, “We were three days in rehearsal when I knew that I would hear from Silverman and others [who would say] 'Let’s do a show with this woman.'" Fred Silverman was head of programming at CBS.

Lear also addressed comments that Maude was modeled after his then-wife, Frances. Lear said that while even Frances herself believed the character was modeled after her, Lear himself still “fought to believe it,” because he had originally believed that he was instead writing Bea Arthur as Maude, an actress who shared many of the traits of the character. He granted, “I always saw the similarities... There was Frances Lear, who was hardly the personality of Bea Arthur, but she was fierce in her convictions.”

In Sally Bedell’s book, Up The Tube: Prime-Time TV and the Silverman Years, she recounts the birth of Maude’s spinoff in a phone call between Lear and Fred Silverman, who had just watched Maude’s first episode of All In The Family. “Who is that woman?” Silverman asked Lear, according to Bedell. He said, “She’s like Jackie Gleason. Bring her back”

Bedell also quotes Lear in her book as he again discusses his wife, Frances. Here, Lear was much more willing to acknowledge the parallel trajectories Maude and his wife journeyed on. He commented, “As she and I grew stronger—separately and together—Maude probably grew more venturesome, too.”

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10 Comments

Runeshaper 3 days ago
Good story, MeTV. Bea Arthur was great! Always loved her in The Golden Girls.
LoveMETV22 4 days ago
Interesting article. Enjoyed " Maude" the series. It could replace one hour of "All in the Family" on Sunday nights. A half/half of sorts:

Reserve the two-hour block format for Sunday mornings in the E/I block.
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LoveMETV22 justjeff 3 days ago
My apologies if that was phrased or read wrong.

What I was saying was save the 2 hour block format for Sunday a.m. during their E/I block.

I know neither AITF or Maude would fall into the E/I category.

However in the other time slots M-F or even weekends, give the 2 hour block a rest. They have other programs in their library ( all their networks). They share some of the current MeTV series on Catchy Comedy and H & I. That cross- sharing can be just as easily done in all directions. The question though is what's motivating the schedule here? Are M*A*S*H, AITF and
The Beverly Hillbillies pulling in so much 💲💲 that they remain with the extended airtime? That's what it looks like.

justjeff LoveMETV22 3 days ago
Ah, that makes more sense now. I tend to suspect that the MeTV library is licensed to one broadcast channel at a time, and must finish its run, [for example] on MeTV before it can move to Catchy Comedy or Heroes and Icons, etc.

However, not knowing what syndication deals Weigel made with the various networks or program distributors, I won't say I'm certain about any of this...
LoveMETV22 justjeff 3 days ago
Not sure on the 1 broadcast channel @ a time as AITF, Ed Sullivan, The Brady Bunch, Carol Burnett, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Love Boat, and Mama's Family run on both MeTV and Catchy Comedy.
H & I and MeTV - share 5 same series as well.

You know as well most every series has run through all their seasons, again....and again, but that's a whole other topic.

However hear you on the syndication deals part. All in all though, Weigel's library is far more extensive than other similar style networks. Just hope they switch a few things on MeTV in the near future for a little variety.
Yes I too have wondered why MASH and AITF have two hour blocks. At least TBH is spread out over different days and hours. I just realized TBH is on in the morning on Saturday, the afternoon on Sunday and at night Monday to Friday.
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