Three days before her 85th birthday, Estelle Getty passed away earlier today at her home, according to her son Carl Gettleman. She succumbed to Levy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Getty was best known to television audiences as Sophia, the opinionated, wisecracking mother to Dorothy (Bea Arthur) on NBC’s The Golden Girls, the series about four women living together in Miami middle-aged from 1985 to 1992.
Estelle Getty was born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, and didn’t start pursuing an acting career until later in life when she became “a housewife in Bayshore, Queens,” according to an article from The New York Times.
Out of the four actresses (Arthur, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan), only Getty is the actress that hasn’t been a household name. Arthur, White, and McClanahan have had pre-Girls television success in the 1970s with Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. However, Getty found “overnight” success on Broadway with an Drama Desk nomination for Harvey Feinstein’s Torch Song Trilogy in 1982.
The Golden Girls was a ratings success throughout its seven-year run, and the role of Sophia won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe. After GG ended in 1992, Getty, White, and McClanahan crossed their characters over to CBS with the spin-off, The Golden Palace. The series lasted one season, but both Getty and Sophia have been on Blossom, Nurses, and as a regular on Empty Nest.
Besides The Golden Girls, she also starred as the overprotective mother and crime-fighting partner to action hero Sylvester Stallone in 1992’s Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!
Getty continued acting until 2000, when the actress’ dementia started to became known — causing her to miss reuniting with her co-stars in 2003’s reunion special, The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments.
Bea Arthur gave a statement today that she’ll miss her former co-star:
“Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the great comic duos”
Estelle Getty was 84.
Source: Yahoo! News