Estelle Getty

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Estelle Getty
EstelleGetty2.jpg
Getty at the 41st annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989
BornEstelle Scher
(1923-07-25)July 25, 1923
New York City, New York
DiedJuly 22, 2008(2008-07-22) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California
Other namesEstelle Scher-Gettleman
EducationSeward Park High School
OccupationActress, comedian
Years active1978–2000
TelevisionThe Golden Girls,
The Golden Palace,
Empty Nest
ReligionJewish
Spouse(s)Arthur Gettleman
(m.1947–2004; his death)
ChildrenCarl Gettleman (son)
Barry Gettleman (son)
 
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Estelle Getty
EstelleGetty2.jpg
Getty at the 41st annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989
BornEstelle Scher
(1923-07-25)July 25, 1923
New York City, New York
DiedJuly 22, 2008(2008-07-22) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California
Other namesEstelle Scher-Gettleman
EducationSeward Park High School
OccupationActress, comedian
Years active1978–2000
TelevisionThe Golden Girls,
The Golden Palace,
Empty Nest
ReligionJewish
Spouse(s)Arthur Gettleman
(m.1947–2004; his death)
ChildrenCarl Gettleman (son)
Barry Gettleman (son)

Estelle Scher-Gettleman (July 25, 1923 – July 22, 2008),[1] better known by her stage name Estelle Getty, was an American actress, who appeared in film, television, 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.[2]

Early life[edit]

Getty was born Estelle Scher in New York City, the daughter of Sarah and Charles Scher, Jewish immigrants from Poland. They worked in the glass business. She had a sister, Roz, and a brother, David.[3] Getty got her start in the Yiddish theater and also as a comedian in the Catskills borscht belt resorts,[4] and among her most notable stage roles was as Harvey Fierstein's mother in Torch Song Trilogy during its original Broadway run.[5]

Career[edit]

Getty is best known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the popular 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls.[6] Her character was the wise-cracking Sicilian mother of Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur, although Getty was in fact one year younger than Arthur.[7][8] Getty won an Emmy Award in 1988 for Outstanding Supporting Actress.[9]

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).[3] She further capitalized on her success by releasing an exercise video for senior citizens in 1993.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Getty attended Seward Park High School.[11]

She was married to Arthur Gettleman (whose name she adapted into her stage name) from December 21, 1947 until his death in 2004.[12] The couple had two sons: Carl Gettleman, who lives in California, and Barry Gettleman, who lives in Florida.[13]

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.[14] 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.[13] 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.[15][16]

In 2003, Lifetime television hosted a Golden Girls reunion. In 2008, the show was awarded the Pop Culture award at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards. Getty did not participate in either project due to her failing health.

Death[edit]

The handprints of Estelle Getty in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

On July 22, 2008, at approximately 5:30 a.m. PDT, Getty died in her Hollywood Boulevard home in Los Angeles from Lewy Body Dementia three days before her 85th birthday.[17][18]

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 Muni, Lester Allen, Felix 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."[19] Betty White remarked, "The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us."[19] Bea Arthur said in a statement, "Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever and I will miss her."[20] Arthur herself died of cancer less than a year after Getty on April 25, 2009,[21] and on June 3, 2010 Rue McClanahan died of a brain hemorrhage.[22]

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.[23] 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.

Awards[edit]

Emmy Awards[edit]

Getty at the 1988 Emmy Awards

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Drama Desk Award[edit]

Golden Raspberry Awards[edit]

Performances[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Film
YearFilmRoleNotes
1978Team-MatesTeacher
1982TootsieMiddle Aged Woman
1985MaskEvelyn
1987MannequinMrs. Claire Timkin
1992Stop! Or My Mom Will ShootMrs. Tutti Bomowski
1999Stuart LittleEstelle LittleCharacter was George's grandmother and Frederick's mother
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1982Baker's DozenMrs. Locasale1 episode
1984Cagney & Lacey1 episode
Fantasy IslandMoney Lady1 episode
No Man's LandEurol MillerTelevision pilot
HotelRoberta Abrams1 episode
1985NewhartMiriam the Librarian1 episode
CopacabanaBella SternMade-for-television musical film
1990CityHelen Rutledge1 episode
1985–1992The Golden GirlsSophia PetrilloMain cast (Seasons 1–7; 180 episodes)
1992–1993The Golden PalaceMain cast (Season 1; 24 episodes)
1993Nurses1 episode
1993–1995Empty NestMain cast (Seasons 6–7; 52 episodes)
1996Touched by an AngelDottie1 episode
1997A Match Made in HeavenBetty WestonMade-for-television film
2000Ladies ManSophia Gates

Live theatre[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hayward, Anthony (July 24, 2008). "Estelle Getty: Matriarch of 'The Golden Girls'". The Independent. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ Carlson, Michael (July 24, 2008). "Obituary: Estelle Getty". theguardian.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Estelle Getty Biography (1923-)". Film Reference. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Goodbye Golden Girl: Comic actress Estelle Getty dies at 84". Haaretz. July 23, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ Simonson, Robery (July 22, 2008). "Estelle Getty, Star of "Golden Girls," Dies at 84". Playbill.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ Weber, Bruce (July 23, 2008). "Estelle Getty, ‘Golden Girls’ Matriarch, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  7. ^ Lansden, Pamela (March 31, 1986). "Estelle Getty Zings for Her Supper as Bea Arthur's Zap-Happy Mom on Golden Girls". People.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ Lawson, Sarah (November 19, 2012). "Great Moments in Age-Inappropriate Casting". The New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Bernstein, Adam (July 23, 2008). "Estelle Getty, 84; 'Golden Girl' Actress Won an Emmy Award". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ Glenn Haas, Jane (December 31, 1993). "Estelle Getty leads a workout for seniors". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ Luther, Claudia (July 23, 2008). "Estelle Getty, 84; 'Golden Girls' actress brought humor, depth to mother roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ Miller, Stephen (July 23, 2008). "Estelle Getty, 84, 'Golden Girl' Had Avant-Garde Career". The New York Sun. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". EstelleGetty.com. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Estelle Getty". Gay Globe Magazine Média TV. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ "A 'Golden Girl's Tragic Battle with Dementia". Entertainment Tonight. November 19, 2004. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ Fonseca, Nicholas (April 24, 2009). "'Golden Girls': A 20th Anniversary Oral History". Entertainment Weekly. p. 3. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  17. ^ "'Golden Girl' Estelle Getty Dead at 84". KTLA. July 22, 2008. Archived from the original on July 22, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  18. ^ "'Golden Girls' actress Estelle Getty dies at 84". CNN.com. July 22, 2008. Archived from the original on July 23, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Estelle Getty, 84, 'Golden Girls' actress". The New York Times. July 22, 2008. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  20. ^ Luther, Claudia (July 23, 2008). "Getty was 'Golden' on TV". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  21. ^ Elber, Lynn (April 25, 2009). "Bea Arthur, 'Golden Girls' Star, Dies At 86". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ Martin, Douglas (June 3, 2010). "Rue McClanahan, Actress and Golden Girl, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  23. ^ Morgenstein, Gary (July 22, 2008). "LIFETIME Television Pays Tribute to Golden Girl Estelle Getty With 10 Special Episodes of the Popular Series, Friday, July 25 from 12-5pm (ET/PT)". Reuters. PRNewswire. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Torch Song Trilogy". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]