Television characters are created for all sorts of reasons, but when Norman Lear came up with the concept for the character of Maude Findley \u2014 ultimately played by Bea Arthur \u2014 it was done so with only one purpose in mind. Explained Lear in his comprehensive Television Foundation interview, \u201cOn All in the Family, we were about eight or 10 shows in and I wanted to have somebody on the show that would kill Archie Bunker verbally. That could destroy him. Mike Stivic fought with him all the time and Mike was as poor a liberal in terms of being well-founded in his view as Archie was as a conservative. So I thought it had to be somebody out of his deep past that could hammer him over a 20-year period. You know, who could reach back into his history.\u201d Close friends with Bea Arthur \u2014 who, of course \u2014 would go on to play Dorothy on The Golden Girls \u2014 he and the writers developed the character of a cousin of Edith\u2019s, who never wanted she and Archie to get married and someone who knew him that long. Related: 'All in the Family': Now We Know What Happened to Make Archie Bunker the Man That He Is And Then There\u2019s Maude! (Sony Pictures Television) For her part, Bea Arthur explains that at the time her husband was in California directing a movie while she was in New York. Lear knew she would be coming out to the West Coast for a visit and suggested she shoot a guest spot on All in the Family. She was reluctant, fearful that if she didn\u2019t like the material she would hurt his feelings, but he made a deal with her. Relates Bea, \u201cHe said, \u2018You\u2019re going to be out here anyway and if you don\u2019t like it for whatever reason, I\u2019ll get another actress to play it. Don\u2019t worry about it.\u2019 So I thought, fine. I had nothing to lose. Well, the part was Maude, Edith Bunker\u2019s cousin. In the episode, everyone in the family has the flu and there\u2019s nobody to take care of anybody. And so, being a cousin of Edith\u2019s who is politically active, a liberal, she comes to take care of them. And it\u2019s the first time that anybody had ever talked back to Archie.\u201d (Sony Pictures Television) The character of Maude went over great in front of and behind the camera. Recalls Lear, \u201cWe were three days in rehearsal when I knew that I would hear from Silverman and others to do a show with this woman. This big-boned, deep-throated woman who had played Maude like characters she\u2019d play on Broadway or off-Broadway, and whom I had used in sketches on The George Gobel Show, was, even before feminism, a very strong woman.\u201d (Columbia Pictures Television) Adds Arthur, \u201cA few days after we finished that episode, Norman called me \u2014 I was back in New York \u2014 telling me that the president of CBS said, \u2018Who is that girl? Let\u2019s give her her own show.\u2019 That\u2019s how it started. I call it a middle-aged Cinderella story.\u201d Maude would air from 1972 to 1978, Bea Arthur winning the 1977 Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.