Before she was a “Maude” or a “Golden Girl”, Bernice Frankel served in the United States Marine Corps during World War 2. She enlisted in 1943 at the age of 21 after hearing that enlistments for women were open.
She went through basic training and was assigned to Washington D.C. as a typist and truck driver in the Women’s reserve. A year after enlisting, Bernice married a fellow marine, Private Robert Arthur. On her “Marine Qualification” card, her active hobbies included hunting with a .22 caliber rifle and a bow and arrow.
Bernice spent 30 months in the Marine Corps. She rose from the rank of Private to Corporal to Sergeant and ultimately Staff Sergeant. She was honorably discharged in September of 1945. She then studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York.
After her discharge, Bernice changed her name to Bea for her acting career. She never spoke about her time with the Marines and even flat out denied her military service. While she may not have wanted to talk about it, it is important to acknowledge her service to her country.