Actress Beatrice Arthur had "thunderbolt comic power," said Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. The star of TV sitcoms Maude and The Golden Girls, who died from cancer on Saturday at the age of 86, was “delightfully clever, articulate,” and self-deprecating. “No woman ever made so many people so happy by being so imperious, so decisive, so just plain bossy.”

She was also a pioneer, said Martin Weil in The Washington Post. “With a physical stature that at 5 feet 9 seemed as imposing as her fearless confidence in her social views,” Arthur’s character Maude “was regarded as a symbol of the rise of feminism in American life” in the 1970s. (watch a clip from Maude) And then in the 1980s, The Golden Girls’ “focus on older women” stretched “the demographic boundaries of the television audience.” (watch a clip from The Golden Girls)

Bea Arthur’s death “marks the passing of an entertainment era,” said Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times. Like other actors who entered television in the ’70s, Arthur first spent “hours upon hours" performing "in theaters large and small.” Watching “someone of Arthur's caliber, I am instantly reminded of how such a piquant talent was cultivated and can't help wondering whether we will ever see its like again.”