When you hear the name Bea Arthur, you likely think of the characters Maude and Dorothy Zbornak. Maybe you even recall her decidedly NSFW appearances in recent years on celebrity roasts. Whatever the case may be, you almost assuredly don’t hear her name and think of the United States Marine Corp.
But, according to this article from The Smoking Gun, there is every reason to believe you should. The website recently published a series of documents suggesting that the beloved screen star did indeed shout Semper Fi – serving 30-months after enlisting in 1943 at the age of 21. According to the article, Arthur – then known by her birth name, Bernice Frankel – spent her time as a typist and a truck driver. Among the evidence the site provides are an official Marine enlistment photo, a handwritten letter from her military personnel file, a marine qualification card, and one highly-personal misconduct report.
Maybe more fascinating than her service as “one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve” is the fact that Arthur maintained until her death in April 2009 that it never occurred. Included at the end of the article is video of an interview where she casually dismisses the entire notion.
Check out all of the evidence and let us know what you think: Did Sofia Petrillo’s daughter lead a secret life among the few, the proud?