Bea Arthur, USMC

Via Slate, comes this amusing story about Golden Girl Bea Arthur:

Bea Arthur, the former Golden Girl who died last year after a struggle with cancer, had a secret history as a U.S. Marine, the Smoking Gun reported on Thursday. Despite denying it later in life, official documents show that Arthur joined up in 1943 at the age of 21 and became one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve, where she drove a truck for two years before being honorably discharged as a staff sergeant. In her Marine ‘personality appraisal,’ the officer who interviewed her described the chat as “argumentative” and characterized her attitude as “over aggressive,” but noted that she’s also “officious—but probably a good worker—if she has her own way!”

Which, ironically, describes the characters she was most well-known for playing on television.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I saw the Smoking Gun original this morning via Twitter. It’s not clear why she would have denied honorable service during WWII.

  2. mantis says:

    That’s awesome. Almost as good as Hedy Lamarr inventing frequency hopping with George Antheil during WWII, without which we would not have WiFi today.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I think a lot of people of that generation downplayed their role in the war. Eddie Albert received a Bronze Star with V for his service in the invasion of Tarawa, driving landing craft in the first wave. And also Jimmy Stewart as a squadron commander in the 8th AF, flying 20 combat missions and receiving two DFCs. You never hear much discussion of their service.

  4. sam says:

    “Almost as good as Hedy Lamarr inventing frequency hopping with George Antheil during WWII, without which we would not have WiFi today.”

    I told that to someone and they were incredulous. “Jesus, you mean the beautiful movie star??”

    “Eddie Albert received a Bronze Star with V for his service in the invasion of Tarawa, driving landing craft in the first wave.”

    He wasn’t a peter boat driver per se, that is, driving one up on the beach — he was a salvage officer who drove around the lagoon during the invasion, collecting the wounded and the dead, and doing whatever he could. I heard him tell the story about 10 or 12 marines he came upon whose boat had been hit by shell fire, and they got dumped in the drink. They were standing on the reef as he came by and they asked him to bring them weapons, they’d lost their’s. When the came back, he said, they were all dead.

    A lot of movie folks were in the service and under fire. If you’ve ever seen the original “And Then There Were None” with Louis Hayward, he was in charge of a combat camera crew at Tarawa.

    There’s a good book to be written about 1940s Hollywood stars in combat, I think

  5. sam says:

    This reminded me of something else. See, Paul Douglas and the section on his military service: “In that six week battle, [Peleliu] while investigating some random fire shootings, Douglas was shot at as he uncovered a two-foot-wide cave. He then killed the Japanese soldier inside at which point he wondered whether his enemy might be an economics professor from the University of Tokyo.”

  6. DC Loser says:

    That’s what really gets me. In WWII everybody did their part. The homefront worked, and almost everything was rationed. Almost everybody who was able bodied signed up for service or were drafted. Contrast that with the war we’ve been in for almost 10 years. Where’s the call to sacrifice?

  7. sam says:

    You got that right.

    Seems the link the the Douglas wiki page is porked. Try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Douglas

  8. Franklin says:

    I saw the Smoking Gun original this morning via Twitter. It’s not clear why she would have denied honorable service during WWII.

    Apparently she got reprimanded for being out-of-service for 5 weeks due to a bout with VD, and she didn’t want anybody digging through the records finding that out.