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Classic TV

‘Maude’ Cast: A Look Back at the Stars From the Hit 70s Sitcom

See where they ended up after the beloved Norman Lear series!


Writer/producer Norman Lear handpicked Bea Arthur to lead the Maude cast, the show serving as the first spin-off of All In The Family. There, Arthur had made two appearances on that show as Maude Findlay, Edith Bunker’s favorite cousin, and it was obvious that there was much more that could be done with the character.

As with All In The Family, Lear and fellow producer Bud Yorkin, provided viewers storylines that were both topical and controversial. From 1972 to 1978, Arthur gave us someone who was outspoken, middle-aged and a politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, New York with her fourth husband, Walter Findlay. Bill Macy joined the Maude cast as Walter, a household appliance store owner.

Related: ‘All in the Family’ Cast: A Look Back at the Bunkers and How They Changed Television

Maude cast, 1976
Maude cast, 1976Tandem Productions/CBS

Maude’s daughter, Carol Traynor (Adrienne Barbeau) lived with the Findlays while other cast members Dr. Arthur Harmon and his sweet, but ditzy, wife Vivian, played by Conrad Bain and Rue McClanahan, respectively, were the next door neighbors. And for much of the show, Maude had a housekeeper, Florida Evans as played by Esther Rolle, a no-nonsense woman who often had the last laugh at her employer’s expense. Rolle’s character became so popular that in 1974 she got her own series, Good Times, while Maude hired two new housekeepers after Florida’s departure.

Scene from Maude, 1970s
Scene from Maude, 1970sTandem Productions/CBS

A definite reflection on Norman Lear’s real life, the show was conceived as a sitcom but the scripts also incorporated dark humor, drama and controversy. Topical issues were brought into the Findlay household, among them Walter’s alcoholism, ultimately resulting in a nervous breakdown, and other current news events that played out on the half-hour sitcom.

Maude enjoyed high ratings in its first four years, but in the 5th season, the sitcom dropped from No. 4 to No. 31. Bea Arthur announced she was leaving after the sixth season, but it was well-known that CBS was planning on canceling the show anyway. Norman Lear, who died at 101 years of age in December 2023, left behind a legacy of groundbreaking television, one being Maude.

(Click through for our celebration of Norman Lear‘s legendary life and career.)

A look back at the beloved Maude cast

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see where the Maude cast members ended up after the classic 70s sitcom.

Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay

Bea Arthur from Maude. Left: 1972; Right: 2005
Bea Arthur Left: 1972; Right: 2005Martin Mills/Getty; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty

Growing up in Maryland, Bea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel, was the tallest girl in her school by age 12, where she was 5’ 9”. Undeterred by her towering height, Arthur, who earned the title “Wittiest Girl” in school, had dreams of being in show business and, as a young girl, did Mae West imitations.

She joined the Marine Corps in World War II, where she drove a truck and worked as a typist, and then came home to marry, but soon divorced. It was then that she told her parents she wanted to pursue entertainment. Arthur, a variation of her first husband’s surname, played classical and dramatic roles, but comedy was her entrée to success.

Her stage breakthrough came in the musical The Threepenny Opera, and then as a regular on Sid Caesar’s TV show. But in 1964, she became really famous as Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof and, despite it being a small role, Arthur stole the show every single night in the original Broadway production. In 1971, she appeared on All In The Family, driving Archie Bunker crazy with her liberal politics. The appearance, as noted, led to her leading the Maude cast, garnering Arthur her first Emmy in the process.

Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, 1972
Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, 1972Tandem Productions/CBS

When it was cancelled, Arthur had no regrets. “I have had six full years and it’s been glorious. I’ve loved every minute of it.” While her hectic shooting schedule left little downtime, Arthur nonetheless raised her two adopted sons, but work did continue: The Golden Girls, a show about the lives of four older women living in Miami, made its debut in 1985. As with Maude, it was an immediate hit.

Arthur remained a big fan of The Golden Girls long after the show ended, proudly watching its reruns. “Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and think of a line and start to laugh.” It ran for seven seasons and upon cancellation, Arthur kept a low profile, appearing in only two movies, For Better or Worse (1995) and Enemies of Laughter (2000). Known for her husky voice and sarcastic wit, Bea Arthur will always be remembered for her deadpan delivery on her hit sitcoms. In 2009, she died of cancer at her home.

Bill Macy as Walter Findlay

Bill Macy Left: 1980; Right: 2004
Bill Macy Left: 1980; Right: 2004Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Moviepix/Getty; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty

Born Wolf Martin Garber, Bill Macy was an established television, film and stage actor before his memorable role as Walter Findlay. He was an original cast member from 1969 to 1971 in the off-Broadway sensation Oh! Calcutta, and Norman Lear brought Macy to Hollywood after seeing his dry witted humor on stage.

He first landed a small part as a police officer in All In The Family, which led to his joining the Maude cast. Strangers on the street identified with his character and often called him Mr. Maude, consoling him for having such a difficult wife. “I used to tell them that people like that really existed,” said Macy at one point.

Guest starring roles after Maude went off the air included L.A. Law, Highway to Heaven, Perry Mason, Las Vegas and he amused Seinfeld viewers as one of the residents of the Florida retirement community where Seinfeld’s parents lived. Not relegated to TV and stage, Macy’s many film credits ran the gamut from comedies — as the co-inventor of the Opti-Grab in Steve Martin’s The Jerk — to dramas as in My Favorite Year as the head writer of a comedy series He passed away at age 97 in 2019.

Adrienne Barbeau as Carol Traynor in the Maude cast

Adrienne Barbeau Left: 1972; Right: 2021
Adrienne Barbeau Left: 1972; Right: 2021Tandem Productions/CBS; Kevin Winter/Getty

Not many know that Adrienne Barbeau was Broadway’s original Rizzo in the musical Grease in the 1970s (for which she received a Tony Award nomination), this after appearing in other Broadway shows, including Fiddler on the Roof, and an off-Broadway nudie musical Stag Movie. Barbeau went on to star in more than 25 musicals and plays.

Born in Sacramento, California, her first showbiz performance was at age 19 when she participated in a USO Tour with the San Jose Light Opera. Somewhere in Southeast Asia at an army base, Barbeau decided acting was for her and upon her return, she moved to New York City to pursue her dream. That ultimately came in the form of Carol Traynor on Maude.

Adrienne Barbeau joins the cast of Maude, 1970s
Adrienne Barbeau joins the cast of Maude, 1970s Bettmann/CBS/Getty

In her autobiography, the actresses said: “What I didn’t know is that when I said my lines, I was usually walking down a flight of stairs and no one was even listening to me. They were just watching my breasts precede me.” During the last season of the sitcom, Barbeau didn’t appear in many episodes.

The chemistry between Barbeau and Bea Arthur was real on and off camera. “She was fantastic”, Barbeau said on their long-standing friendship. “I realized years later how much I took it for granted, because it was my first experience on television. I just assumed that everyone was as giving as she was, as professional as she was, that everyone who was doing a TV show showed up knowing their lines … I mean she was just the best. I loved her dearly; she was a great lady. We had a great cast and they were my family for six years.”

Adrienne Barbeau and Bea Arthur in Maude, 1970s
Adrienne Barbeau and Bea Arthur in a scene from Maude, 1970sTandem Productions/CBS

After Maude, Barbeau was cast in numerous TV films and series, often as a tough broad. Then husband John Carpenter cast her in his horror film, The Fog (1980), which was her first feature film appearance, which would lead to several more horror movies. Bouncing between TV and film, Barbeau ventured into music, releasing her debut album as a folk singer in 1998. She also did voice overs before joining HBO’s Carnivale. In 2015, after years of TV and film, she assumed the role of Berthe in Pippin in the Broadway Touring Company. But above it all, it will always be Maude that Adrienne Barbeau remembers with enthusiasm, pride and love.

Conrad Bain as Dr. Arthur Harmon in the Maude cast

Conrad Bain Left: 1976; Right: 2003
Conrad Bain Left: 1976; Right: 2003GreggAaron Spelling Productions/Douglas S. Cramer Company/The Love Boat Company/MoviestillsDB; DeGuire/WireImage/Getty

Conrad Bain’s affable and professional persona on both stage and screen was developed before he was cast as Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude. He had a long career that spanned four decades and included notable success on Broadway in plays such as The Iceman Cometh and Uncle Vanya. In the early 1970s, films such as The Anderson Tapes and Woody Allen’s Bananas gave him a chance to shine on the big screen.

Born in Alberta Canada, Conrad Stafford Bain was a twin son who enjoyed Canadian sports growing up, but picked up an interest in acting while in high school. From daytime (Dark Shadows, The Edge of Night) to primetime, thanks to Norman Lear who offered him the supporting role in the Maude cast. Dr. Arthur Harmon was born – a stuffy, conservative doctor/husband who usually was at political odds with Maude Findlay.

Conrad Bain with Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman in Diff'rent Strokes, 1978
Conrad Bain with Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman in Diff’rent Strokes, 1978NBC TV/Getty

When Maude was cancelled, Bain moved over to another Norman Lear sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes, as the rich, but caring father Phillip Drummond who takes in two orphaned African American boys. No longer a supporting role, Bain had his first TV starring character. Later in his career, he stepped away from TV and film to focus on theater, ultimately retiring from acting altogether. The beloved TV dad passed away of natural causes at age 89.

Rue McClanahan as Vivian Harmon in the Maude cast

Rue McClanahan Left: 1977; Right: 2005
Rue McClanahan Left: 1977; Right: 2005Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty

Rue McClanahan was a popular stage actress throughout the 1950s and, as with other Maude cast members, was plucked from the stage by Norman Lear first for a role on his All My Family. There she played one-half of a swinging couple who meet the unsuspecting Bunkers, which was followed by Maude as Vivian Harmon, Maude’s best friend and next door neighbor.

Born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma, she moved to New York City to pursue an acting career and worked as a file clerk before finding success in the theater. Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur continued their comedic collaboration on The Golden Girls, where McClanahan was cast as the sassy, sex-starved Southern Belle Blanche Devereaux.

Portrait of the cast of The Golden Girls, 1985
Portrait of the cast of The Golden Girls, 1985Fotos International/Getty

Related: ‘The Golden Girls’ Secrets: 12 Amazing Stories About Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia

Not relegated to just the small screen series, McClanahan lent her talents to a number of made for TV movies and appeared on the big screen in the comedy Out To Sea (1997) opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and also with Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers (1997). A vegan and dedicated animal rights activist, McClanahan was an Honorary Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), becoming one of the first celebrity supporters of PETA.

Diagnosed with cancer in the mid 90s, she was able to battle it successfully, but spent her time joining and helping organizations which fight against cancer, AIDS and cruelty to animals up to her passing in 2010.

Esther Rolle as Florida Evans

Esther Rolle Left: 1977; Right: 1990
Esther Rolle Left: 1977; Right: 1990Bettmann/Getty; Paul Natkin/Getty

Known for her spirited and iron-willed character on Maude, followed by Good Times, Esther Rolle was the same off camera. Known for her gravelly voice and gap between the two front teeth, Rolle became the first woman to receive the NAACP Chairman’s Civil Rights Leadership Award for helping raise the image of blacks. Despite her outstanding reputation in such theater plays as Blues for Mister Charlie, A Raisin in the Sun and A Member of the Wedding, to name a few, Rolle did not have a successful acting career until she was 51 and became a Maude cast member.

Norman Lear had approached Rolle after seeing her performances on Broadway as his first choice for portraying Florida Evans, and though she promised her dad that she would never become a servant or maid in real life, she would have her biggest successes playing just those types of roles — a feisty domestic who stood her ground and then some. Sadly, Rolle died nine days after her 78th birthday in 1998.

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