Bill Macy, Bea Arthur’s ‘Maude’ co-star, dead at 97

Bill Macy, best remembered for playing Bea Arthur’s fourth husband, Walter Findlay, in the 1972-78 sitcom “Maude,” died Thursday. He was 97.

His death was announced by his manager, Matt Beckoff, on Facebook, calling him “a spitfire to the end.”

Macy went toe to toe with his fiery, feminist TV wife — the “uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranquilizing” Maude Findlay — in the Norman Lear show, often on the receiving end of Arthur’s menacing glare as she dropped her character’s signature catchphrase, “God’ll get ya for that, Walter.” (Arthur died in 2009 at age 86.)

“Maude” — a spinoff of the 1971-79 comedy “All in the Family,” starring Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton — was known for prodding the public about turbulent social issues, including women’s rights, race relations and abortion. One particular episode delved into Walter’s drinking problem and included a scene in which he slapped Maude — an act that affected Macy himself emotionally.

“When I hit her, on camera …,” said Macy, choking up and fighting back tears, during a 2015 interview with Shout! Factory, “I … It’s how I felt, even just the memory of it.”

Macy logged a large number of guest roles over the years in a diverse range of shows, such as “My Name Is Earl,” “NYPD Blue,” “Seinfeld,” “The Facts of Life,” “LA Law,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Love Boat” and “Columbo.” His film work included parts in 1979’s “The Jerk” opposite Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, 1999’s “Analyze This” and 1982’s “My Favorite Year.”

At age 45, Macy was an original cast member of the bawdy 1969-72 Broadway show “Oh! Calcutta!,” which required full nudity on the part of the cast, including Macy. “The nudity didn’t bother me,” he told the New York Times in June. “I’m from Brooklyn.” (He was born in Revere, Mass., but raised in the New York City borough.)

Macy’s last role was in a 2010 episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s series “Hawthorne.” He is survived by his wife, actress Samantha Harper Macy, whom he met when they both performed in “Oh! Calcutta!”

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