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Estelle Getty Alert Me

Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo
Originally printed on July 23, 2008 in the Family Announcements.
Viewed by 3063 Visitors.

Estelle Getty, who died on 22 July, 2008, was an American actress who won Golden Globe and Emmy awards for her role in the long-running sitcom The Golden Girls.She played the feisty octogenarian matriarch Sophia Petrillo, mother of Dorothy, one of three older women who shared a Miami apartment. The quartet of divorcees and widows were the stars of one of America's best-loved and most celebrated comedies - each of its principle actors won at least one Emmy during its seven-year run.Petite and bespectacled, Sophia was known for her sharp put-downs and stubbornness. She was originally only supposed to be a secondary character, but early appearances proved so popular that the writers burnt down her retirement home, forcing her to move in with the eponymous girls.She was born Estelle Scher in New York City on 25 July, 1923 to Polish immigrants. She began her career on the Jewish niche theatre circuit but later graduated to Broadway. She made her movie debut in Team-Mates (1978) at the age of 55 and had supporting roles in films like Tootsie (1982) and Mask (1985).She was cast as Sophia in 1985 despite actually being one year younger than Golden Girls principle star Beatrice Arthur who played Dorothy. By the time it ended in 1992, the show had been named 'Best Comedy' twice by both the Emmys and Golden Globes. Beatrice Arthur left the series after the seventh run, but the rest of the cast returned for the spin-off The Golden Palace (1992-93), set in a hotel.Her success in The Golden Girls led to more film work, including a starring role alongside Sylvester Stallone in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) and the grandmother in Stuart Little (1999).She retired due to illness (later diagnosed as Lewy body dementia) in 2000, preventing her from appearing at Golden Girls reunions. She died at her home in LA a few days before her 85th birthday. Her husband Arthur Gettleman (from whom she adapted her stage name) died in 2004. She was survived by their two sons, Carl and Barry.Golden Girls co-star Betty White said: “The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us.”

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