Estelle Getty, best known for her role as the acid-tongued octogenarian Sophia Petrillo on the 1980s television series The Golden Girls, died today, July 22, 2008, at her Hollywood Boulevard home in Los Angeles. The New York City-born Getty had been suffering from advanced dementia for several years; on July 25, she would have turned 85.
The Golden Girls, quite possibly the wittiest American TV show of the late 20th century, featured four female retirees sharing a spacious house in Miami. The show’s other three cast members were Bea Arthur, who played Getty’s daughter, Dorothy (in real life Arthur was actually a year older than her Golden Girls mother); Rue McClanahan as the seductress Blanche; and Betty White as the ditzy Rose. The series ran from 1985 to 1992.
Estelle Getty movies
Estelle Getty movie appearances, mostly in small roles, were rare: according to the IMDb, there were a mere eight in all. Among those were a bit role in Sydney Pollack’s 1982 blockbuster Tootsie; Peter Bogdanovich’s Mask (1985), in which Getty plays Cher’s mother; and the Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall romantic comedy Mannequin (1987). Additionally, Getty earned solid reviews for her comic performance as Sylvester Stallone’s mother in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, but the Roger Spottiswoode-directed 1991 farce bombed at the box office.
Estelle Getty’s last film appearance was in Neil Mandt’s little-seen The Million Dollar Kid (2000), starring Richard Thomas, Maureen McCormick, and C. Thomas Howell.
Busy on television
On TV, Estelle Getty kept herself busy, reprising her Golden Girls character in the serie’s less popular sequel The Golden Palace (minus Bea Arthur), and on the long-running sitcom Empty Nest. Beginning in the early ’80s, guest roles included those in Hotel, Newhart, Touched by an Angel, Mad About You, and Ladies Man.
Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty The Golden Girls image: NBC.