Estelle Getty of 'Golden Girls' Fame's Life and Final Days

Famous “Golden Girls” star, Estelle Getty had a life well-lived. Very few, however, know that she died from complications of a rare terminal disease. 

Getty is a talent sorely missed in Hollywood, but she thankfully had a fulfilled life. The mother of two died in 2008 at the age of 84 from complications of Lewy body dementia, a complicated form of dementia, which doctors initially diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis. 


Even long after her demise, Getty’s most recognized work is her star role in the classic American sitcom, “Golden Girls.” The show only ran for seven years, but that was enough time for it to make a mark in film history.

Getty was born and raised in New York City. She grew up nursing dreams of becoming an actress. That did not quickly come to fruition, and a young Getty worked waiting on tables in Catskills borscht bell resorts.

She, however, stayed true to her dreams by working as a theatre artist in Yiddish theater and even tried her stand-up comedy at some point. 

The turning point for Getty’s entertainment career came when she became a part of “The Golden Girls” cast. The beautiful star gave a sterling performance while portraying the role of Sophia Petrillo in “Golden Girls.” The show followed the lives of Sophia, her divorced daughter, Beatrice Arthur as well as Beatrice’s two other friends. 

It seemed like no one could have ever played the sharp and witty matriarch than Getty! Getty indeed embodied talent and thanks to the show’s skillful makeup, Petrillo became a fan favorite. 

“The Golden Girls” rose to great acclamation and made Getty and the other members of the ensemble cast household names. For playing Sophia so excellently, however, Getty received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress.

While it seemed like Getty was a late bloomer in the film industry, there is no denying that she is one of the most popular classic stars known even now. Some of her other notable works include starring in “Tootsie, Mask” and “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.”


If you didn't already know, Getty is a year younger than Beatrice Arthur who played her TV daughter in “The Golden Girls.” A Mental Floss article reports that it took the makeup department nearly an hour to transform Getty into Sophia Petrillo! 

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