Estelle Getty Dead at 84!

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Golden Girl, Estelle Getty Dead at 84

    Estelle Getty was a very good mother.

    The actress, whose knack for being cast as a maternal unit paid off handsomely when she was cast as Beatrice Arthur's no-holds-barred mother on the long-running TV hit The Golden Girls, died early today at her Los Angeles home, her son Carl Gettleman said.
    Getty, who was three days shy of her 85th birthday, succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms that mimic Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

    A perennial award nominee for The Golden Girls, which ran for seven seasons, from 1985 to 1992, Getty won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work as Sophia Petrillo, the shuffling octogenarian with the muted self-censor button who was never without her handbag—or a wisecrack.

    Arthur said today she will miss her former costar.

    "Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever," Arthur said in a statement.

    The onscreen relationship worked so well, in fact, that the casual viewer never suspected the offscreen truth that was masked by Getty's granny wig and glasses: The TV daughter was older than the TV mother. (Arthur was born, depending on the source, in either May 1923 or May 1922.)

    Cast as the most senior of the show's Miami women of a certain age, Getty wasn't even the second oldest cheesecake-eating Golden Girl. Betty White, who played naive Rose, also was older than Getty.

    Age 62 at the time of the show's premiere, Getty was the least-well-known member of the gang of four, which was rounded out by Rue McClanahan as the hot 'n' steamy Blanche. While her costars had all been prime-time fixtures on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (White) and Maude (Arthur and McClanahan), Getty had been but a bit player whose screen career had begun seven years prior.

    Theater audiences, at least, were familiar with her work. In 1982, Getty earned a Drama Desk nomination for Torch Song Trilogy, the groundbreaking Harvey Fierstein play that put the middle-aged Getty on the road to "overnight" success.

    In Torch Song, Getty played Fierstein's in-denial mother. Getty, by her own account, played the mother to "everyone but Attila the Hun," including Cher (Mask) and Sylvester Stallone (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

    More than anything, Getty played Sophia.

    NBC deployed her and her character seemingly whenever one of its shows needed a little Golden Girls ratings magic. In all, Getty showed up in Sophia guise on Blossom, Empty Nest and Nurses.

    In the fall of 1992, months after The Golden Girls finally expired, Getty, White and McClanahan reteamed for the spinoff, The Golden Palace, which moved the franchise from NBC to CBS and their characters from Blanche's home to a hotel. It lasted only one season.
    Getty continued to work until 2000, when her dementia became more pronounced. Her illness forced her to miss more than one reunion with her signature costars, including the 2003 TV special, The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments.

    Born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, Getty set aside early acting ambitions to become a "housewife in Bayshore, Queens," as the New York Times put it in a 1982 article.

    Getty, then 58, told the newspaper she thought she was too old for Broadway. But given a chance meeting with Fierstein at a party in the 1970s, the novice turned positively Sophia-esque.

    "I said to him, 'If you're such a hotshot playwright, why don't you write a play with a mother in it—so I can play it,'" Getty said. "A year later he sent me this play to read. He had never seen my work, but decided I could do it."

    And she could.
     
  2. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    What a fantastic show! The best comedies have cast chemistry and never was it as good as with The Golden Girls. I'm so glad she loved her role. Too many actors grow to despise the roles that made them famous.

    Thanks Estelle for many great laughs.
     
  3. CUBE

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    She was awesome. I had heard of her dementia type problems and for an actress so sharp with memory it sounded even more awful. Rest in peace. Her work will entertain people forever.
     
  4. D_Relentless Original

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    So Sad, thanks Estelle for all the laughs, goodbye sweetheart X
     
  5. Not_Punny

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    'm sorry to see her go. If she'd been able to stick around for a few years, maybe she could have tried the new neurological drug from Germany that the FDA is currently fast-tracking.
     
  6. justmeincal

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    Ah, this is sad to hear. She brought laughter into so many of our lives.
     
  7. B_JasonDawgxxx

    B_JasonDawgxxx New Member

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    We knew this day was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier. Estelle Getty passed away this morning at her home in Los Angeles. She was 84. Estelle was surrounded by her family and friends when she went away. She suffered from Lewy Body Dementia for years.

    I'll quietly eat a piece cheesecake. It's what Sophia would have wanted.
    Rest in peace, Estelle.....



     

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  8. prince_will

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    I was too hurt to hear about this. I watch the Golden Girls all the time, and it's going to be a little sad to know that Estelle is no longer living. At least there's no more suffering.
     
  9. B_Lightkeeper

    B_Lightkeeper New Member

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    I watch Golden Girls reruns almost every morning. Yes, she will be missed but thanks to the media, she will still be around to entertain. R.I.P.
     
  10. fun30013

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    Very sad news!! Rest in peace sweetheart!
     
  11. unique_exposure

    unique_exposure New Member

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    Sophia was my favorite character on the show; her convoluted Sicily family recounts were hilarious. Then again Rose's St. Olef stories were funny too.
    Great show, easy to watch.
     
  12. camper joe

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    It was very sad news to learn of Ms Getty passing. Alzheimer's is a very cruel not only to those who are inflicted but also for their love ones.
     
    #12 camper joe, Jul 22, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2008
  13. Mr. Snakey

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    Very sad news. That was a great show.
     
  14. B_lamdellboo

    B_lamdellboo New Member

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    She was the best. R.I.P.
     
  15. Meniscus

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    My maternal grandmother suffered from dementia the last few years of her life. Much of the time she wasn't lucid and didn't know anybody. She'd try to talk, but wouldn't say much that was coherent. When she was lucid, she was stuck in the past, almost like a little girl. Sometimes she get upset and ask for her mother, which was heartbreaking.

    Although I'm sad Estelle is gone, I am more relieved that she's now at peace.

    There are several tributes to Estelle on YouTube, although none were that good, so I'll settle for this classic Sophia clip. (Don't try this at home, though. It's not as funny in real life as it is on TV.)
    YouTube - FAVORITE Golden Girls Scene
     
  16. mgmnguy

    mgmnguy Member

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    I used to love watching the Golden Girls - was one of the shows our family watched on a regular basis...

    As stated above, while I'm sad she is gone, I'm glad she isn't suffering anymore.
     
  17. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    She had a good run, 84 is a very good age and she made a lot of people on this earth laugh. I raise a big 'ol glass to you, Estelle :smile:
     
  18. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    That lady had SPUNK :smile: She'll be missed but Sophia will always be around to make me laugh.
     
  19. iain_ware

    iain_ware New Member

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    I loved the golden girls, will sure miss Estelle, she was fabulous! much love to her family (not forgetting Blanche!).
     
  20. MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK

    MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK Well-Known Member

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    What a shame. That lady was so damn good as Sophia it's incomparable. Oh, and not to be a smartass(Who me?:confused:biggrin:), but Getty also had a bit part in TOOTSIE.


    She will be missed that's for sure. Vaya con Dios, Estelle.
     
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