Estelle Getty, born Estelle Gettleman on July 25, 1923, was an American actress and comedian best known for her portrayal of Sophia Petrillo on “The Golden Girls” from 1985 to 1992. She was a multi-award-winning actress and sadly passed away in 2008 from Lewy body dementia. Today, we are going to celebrate her career with some fun facts and more!
July 25, 1923
July 22, 2008 (age 84)
Estelle Getty was an American actress and comedian born in New York City to parents Charles Scher and Sara; Jewish immigrants from Poland. After attending and graduating from Seward Park High School, Getty remained at her parent’s house, and her father was doubtful she would be able to make it as an actress. While living at home, she worked as a secretary. In 1947, she met Arthur Gettleman, and the two were married nine months later. They shared two children, Carl Gettleman and Barry Gettleman.
After several stints on the New York theater circuit, Getty got a small role in the movie “Team-Mates” in 1978. Thereafter, she had a few more roles in movies and television series, with one of her most notable castings being in the 1985 film “Mask.” That same year, Getty starred in the first season of the hit television series “The Golden Girls.” Getty played Sophia Petrillo in “The Golden Girls” until 1992, and the series afforded her a Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy,’ and a Primetime Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.’
Getty reprised the role of Sophia Petrillo in a further four television appearances, in the shows “Empty Nest” (1993 to 1995), “The Golden Palace” (1992 to 1993), “Blossom” (1990 to 1995), and “Nurses” (1991 to 1994). Her final film role was in 1999 when she was cast as Grandma Estelle in “Stuart Little.” In 2001, Getty retired due to health issues and later passed away in 2008 from Lewy body dementia.
Getty is cast in the film “Team-Mates” as a teacher.
She stars in the television series “The Golden Girls” in a leading role.
Getty is cast as Grandma Estelle in “Stuart Little.”
Getty passes away after years of health issues.
Why We Love Estelle Getty
She was a late bloomer in acting
Getty got a late start in acting and still managed to bag one of the most famous roles to date in “The Golden Girls.” We love her determination to become a successful actress.
She was an activist
After numerous close relatives and friends died from AIDS, Getty became heavily involved in HIV/AIDS activism. She helped open a hospice in North Carolina called Beacon Place.
She was very talented
Getty did a few stints on Broadway and off-Broadway. She then transitioned into film and television, proving that she was multi-talented.
5 Surprising Facts
Her nickname Etty is due to her sister not being able to pronounce Estelle properly.
She was terrified of death
Getty was so paranoid about death that she avoided talking or making jokes about it.
She wrote an autobiography
Getty wrote the autobiography “If I Knew Then, What I Know Now... So What?” during her time on “The Golden Girls.”
She had a fitness video
Like most celebs in the 1980s and 1990s, Getty released an exercise video.
Her role in “The Golden Girls”
Getty had to rely on heavy makeup in “The Golden Girls” to age her and her daughter on the show was actually older than her in real life!
Estelle Getty FAQs
How old was Estelle Getty when she played Sophia Petrillo?
She was 62 years old when she was cast in “The Golden Girls.”
Did Estelle Getty have siblings?
Yes, she had two siblings, Rosilyn Scher and David Scher.
Is Estelle Getty related to John Paul Getty?
No, the two are not related.
Estelle Getty’s birthday dates