William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols

Bea Arthur will be remembered not just for her dry delivery and deft timing but for knocking down television taboos. First in Maude, and later in the Golden Girls, she introduced sex-related firsts that other shows were scared to touch. Here's a look at some of the barriers broken by Arthur and other screen stars.

First Married Couple to Share a Bed: Yes, there was a time it was considered wildly risqué to portray two married people sleeping together. But that time was the hilariously uptight 1950s, not swinging 1947, when the real-life married stars of Mary Kay and Johnny, television's first sitcom, regularly shared sheets. No couple would rock the bed again until the Flintstones.

First Bisexuals: Star Trek's 1967 episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" features Tribbles, adorable fuzzy creatures who reproduce constantly and swing both ways. Some would argue that Tribbles were also television's first Furries. Watch them here:

First Interracial Kiss: Less than a year after the Tribbles episode, Star Trek tears down another (more serious) wall by featuring TV's first interracial kiss — a human lip-grip between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. While the racial breakthrough was admirable, a kiss between a captain and lieutenant would today be recognized as sexual harassment. Watch it here:

First Abortion: Whoa, what happened between the dull TV '60s and 1972? Women's liberation, the start of the gay rights movement, and a dude named Norman Lear. The boundary-pushing writer was responsible for many television firsts, including a two-episode Maude storyline in November 1972 in which the title character, played by Bea Arthur, became pregnant and had an abortion. Two affiliates refused to run the episodes, and others agreed not to rerun them — even though the second episode attracted 65 million viewers. Think about the cultural climate of today and consider how amazing this is: There was once a time when a sitcom could get 65 million viewers. See the first episode here:

First Sweet, Wonderful Nudity: More than 30 years before Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," Valerie Perrine quite deliberately exposed her breasts on television in a shower scene in a 1973 PBS broadcast of the play Steambath. It was little-seen because so many stations refused to air it, which might explain why it didn't cause all the fuss Jackson did. (Though many claim Jayne Mansfield had a breast-flashing dress mishap at the 1957 Academy Awards, Academy researchers promise it never happened.) First Use of the Word Condom: In a February 1987 episode of Valerie, Jason Bateman's David and his girlfriend, Lori, make plans for him to buy condoms for their first sex-having session. Across America, people giggle awkwardly. Watch it here:

First AIDS Test by a Senior Citizen: In a 1990 episode of Golden Girls, another show starring the groundbreaking Bea Arthur, Rose is tested for HIV/AIDS after learning she may have been exposed through a blood transfusion. In the same episode, Blanche says she has also been tested, and that she uses — giggle — condoms with her male suitors. Highlighting senior sexuality was a Golden Girls specialty, but the episode also reminded viewers — a year before Magic Johnson announced he was HIV-positive — that viruses don't discriminate on the basis of sexuality, age, or anything else. Watch the start of the episode here:

First Lesbian Kiss: In 1991 — really? This didn't happen until 1991? — L.A. Law's Abby and CJ shared the shortest of lesbian kisses. Watch it here:

First Openly Lesbian Actress in a Sitcom: Ellen DeGeneres comes out on a May 1997 episode of Ellen, with help from Melissa Etheridge. Watch it here:

What TV taboos are you glad to see broken?