Adored by fans as the tart-tongued octogenarian Sophia on the hit comedy series Golden Girls, Estelle Getty left a huge void in the heart of Hollywood when she died in 2008.
For years, Getty, struggled quietly and eventually lost her life to a vicious disease. Getty’s birthday falls on July 25, let’s remember her as the stellar entertainer who still makes us laugh with her brilliant humor on reruns of Golden Girls.
The 1980’s were fortuitous for Estelle Getty, who spent decades appearing on stage, hoping to get her big break.
Born in 1923, the New Yorker had her launchpad role in 1982 when she was cast in the Broadway production, The Torch Song. Her character was specifically designed by actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, who also starred in the play as the son of Getty’s character.
Almost 60 at the time, Getty went onto play the lead role of Mrs. Beckhoff on and off Broadway for four years. Her performance in the play, about a drag queen living in New York, captured the attention of a production team that was looking for an older actor to play the matriarch of a special group of seniors in Florida.
The show was called The Golden Girls and pulled together Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White, all who would be immortalized for their comedic prowess and memorable performances in a show that entertained generations.
Using caked-on makeup and wigs, Getty–62 at the time–convincingly played the quick-witted Sophia Petrillo, a mother in her 80s to Arthur’s character, Dorothy, who was the roommate to Blanche (McClanahan) and Rose (White).