Bea Arthur

  1. Bette Davis, Wicked Stepmother, 1988.  Director Larry Cohen had been shooting his horror trip for a week when his star – Bette Davis, herself – took off for a dental, appointment.  And was never seen again.  She blamed the script, not her health. Cohen contacted Bea Arthur and Lucille Ball to take over – but then decided his 11 minutes of Bette film would be enough, changed her character into her cat, morphing into Barbara Carrera, as the new villain. (No, really!) Female impersonator Michael Greer did all necessary Bette dubbing in what proved her 123rd and final screen role.  Lucille, also ill at 77, died six months before Bette, at 81, in 1989.

  2. Pat Carroll, The Little Mermaid, 1989.      “An answer to a prayer,” said Carroll on winning her lifetime’s ambition – voicing a Disney character.   Ursula had been first designed for Arthur – far too busy with The Golden Girls, 1985-1992. Next? Divine (!), Charlotte Rae, Roseanne, the Absolutely Fabulous Jennifer Saunders and singer Nancy Wilson. Plus a slew of veteran ladies: Coral Browne, Nancy Marchand, Sylvia Sidney – and Elaine Stritch, who won the gig, then lost it after disputes with lyricist Howard Ashman.

 Birth year: 1922Death year: 2009Other name: Casting Calls:  2