Estelle Getty
  • 84 years old
  • Date of birth: Jul 25, 1923
  • Date of passing: Jul 22, 2008
  • Place of passing:
    La, California, United States
Let the memory of Estelle be with us forever
Estelle Getty From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia        

Estelle Scher-Gettleman ,[1] better known by her stage name Estelle Getty, was an American actress, ho appeared in filmtelevision, and theatre. She was best known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls from 1985 to 1992, which won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, on The Golden Palace from 1992 to 1993 and on Empty Nest from 1993 to 1995. In her later years, after retiring from acting, she battled Lewy body dementia.


Getty was born Estelle Scher in New York City, the daughter of Sarah and Charles Scher, Jewish immigrants from Poland who worked in the glass business. She had a sister Roz and a brother David.[2] Getty got her start in the Yiddish theater and also as a comedienne in the Catskills borscht belt resorts, and among her most notable stage roles was as Harvey Fierstein's mother in Torch Song Trilogy during its original Broadway run.

She is best known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the popular 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls. Her character was the wise-cracking Sicilian mother of Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur. In real life, Getty was in fact one year younger than Arthur. Getty won an Emmy Award in 1988 forOutstanding Supporting Actress.

During her time on The Golden Girls Getty wrote an autobiography with Steve Delsohn entitled If I Knew Then, What I Know Now... So What?(Contemporary Books, 1988).[2] She further capitalized on her success by releasing an exercise video for senior citizens in 1993.

She attended Seward Park High School.[3]


Getty was married to Arthur Gettleman (whose name she adapted into her stage name) from December 21, 1947 until his death in 2004. Getty had two sons: Carl Gettleman( October 4, 1949 (age 63)), who lives in California, and Barry Gettleman( December 4, 1952 (age 60)), who lives in Florida.[4]

In 1991, as later reported in Star magazine, Getty helped to nurse her 29-year-old nephew Steven Scher, who was near death and suffering from the final stages of AIDS.[5] Because Scher's parents lived in England and his friends were no longer able to care for him in Greensboro, North Carolina, Getty had him flown to California and admitted to hospice care. He died in January 1992. Getty was a supporter of gay rights.

In 2000, Getty stopped making public appearances after revealing she had Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis. In 2002, media reports claimed she was also suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Doctors later discovered she actually had Lewy body dementia; both the Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diagnoses were incorrect.[4] Cast members attempted to talk to her on the phone or in person, but found that she couldn't remember them, or anything about the show. Bea Arthur said that even during production of the series, Getty had so much trouble remembering her lines that they should have known something was wrong from the beginning.[6][7]

In 2003, Lifetime television hosted a Golden Girls reunion, but Getty did not appear due to her failing health.[citation needed]

  On 22 July 2008, at approximately 5:30 a.m. PDT, Getty died in her Hollywood Boulevard home in Los Angeles from natural causes three days before her 85th birthday.[8][9][10]

Estelle Getty was buried in the Plains of Abraham (formerly Section 14) Jewish section, of Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. She is interred near other entertainment notables like actors Paul MuniLester AllenFelix Bressart, former German filmmakers Joe & Mia May (Mandel), and 007 co-screenwriter Richard W. Maibaum. On August 1, 2009, Estelle's tombstone was installed.

Getty's Golden Girls co-stars reflected upon her death; Rue McClanahan told the Associated Press, "Don't feel sad about her passing. She will always be with us in her crowning achievement, Sophia." Betty White remarked, "The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us." Bea Arthur said in a statement, "Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever and I will miss her."[10] Arthur herself died of cancer less than a year after Getty on April 25, 2009, and on June 3, 2010, Rue McClanahan died of a stroke.

In honor of Getty, Lifetime TV, which aired reruns of The Golden Girls at the time, aired ten episodes of the series featuring the best of Sophia on Friday, July 25, 2008, her birthday. Fans voted for their favorite episode on Lifetime's website. The episode "Old Friends" received the most votes and was aired last during the marathon.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Tristen Jones on 23rd October 2013

"mama meia estelle you have lived a great life betty white misses you all of your fans miss you god bless you"

This tribute was added by Karen Henton on 7th February 2013

"MAMA meia!!  You still the most spunky lady I ever knew as Sophia.  I still watch your reruns.  Peace always.....  Salevi!!!!"

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