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July 22, 2008

Golden Girl Estelle Getty Dies

Emmy-winning Actress was 84

Estelle Getty, pictured above as herself, and on the right and below, in character as "Sophia" of comedy series classic Golden Girls.

Actress Estelle Getty, widely recognized as feisty "Sophia" of television sitcom classic Golden Girls died today.
She was 84.

"She was one of the most talented comedic actresses who ever lived," said her son, Carl Gettleman, voicing the sentiments of many.

Getty received two Emmy Awards for her work on Golden Girls, the long-running syndication staple revolving around four female retirees living together in Miami, Florida.

While three of the series' four roles were filled with well-established, veteran actresses—Bea Arthur of Maude, The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Betty White and Rue McClanahan of Mama's Family, Getty had been a struggling thesp for 40 years when she stepped into the role if 80ish-year-old Sophia Petrillo.

Having failed two earlier screen tests because she did not look old enough to play Sophia, the then-60-something actress had been told,
the New York native returned to NBC for one more audition, according to the Associated Press.

She reportedly showed up in more matronly clothing and told a studio makeup artist: "It's my entire career down the toilet unless you make me look 80."

One-liner master Getty and her fellow Golden Girls went on to enjoy a seven-season run from 1985 to 1992. She also appeared in several television movies and theatricals.

Getty married businessman Arthur Gettleman in 1947. She is survived by the couple's two sons, Carl and Barry; her brother, David Scher and sister, Rosilyn Howard.

Visit Estelle Getty's official website to enjoy more gallery photos and learn more about the actress.

To learn more about this life and works of this American Archive of Television personality online, please visit the Archive of American Television Update blog.

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