Estelle Getty life and biography

Estelle Getty picture, image, poster

Estelle Getty biography

Date of birth : 1923-07-25
Date of death : 2008-06-22
Birthplace : New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-08-22
Credited as : Actress, The Golden Girls, Emmy Award

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Estelle Scher-Gettleman better known by her stage name Estelle Getty, was an American actress, who appeared in film, theatre and television. She is 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.

Growing up New York City's Lower East Side, she first dreamed of becoming an actress as a child. While working as a waitress in the Catskills, Getty tried her hand at stand-up comedy but found the audiences unreceptive to a female comic. She later took a job as a secretary while trying to find work as an actor. In 1947, Getty married Arthur Gettleman, and they had two sons, Barry and Carl. She took a few years off to be with her children before resuming her passion for acting.
For decades, Getty performed in Yiddish theaters, off Broadway shows, and touring productions. In the 1980s, she had a career breakthrough playing a Jewish mother with traditional values who learns that her son played by Harvey Fierstein in Torch Song Trilogy, which he also wrote. Her performance earned her a Drama Desk Award nomination in 1982. Around this time, Getty also made a few television guest appearances on such shows as Cagney & Lacey, Hotel, and Newhart.
Again taking a maternal part, Getty played Cher's mother in the drama Mask (1985), one of her first substantial film roles. That same year, she took the country by storm as the small and sassy Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls. In the show, she played Bea Arthur's mother, even though they were very close in age. Getty wore a wig and learned to carry herself as an older person. She was so convincing that people were often shocked to learn that she was really in her sixties, not her eighties.

Also co-starring Betty White and Rue McClannan, The Golden Girls broke new comedic ground, proving that audiences would tune in to see a show about mature women. All of the lead actresses were skilled performers with excellent comedic timing, but Getty often got the biggest laugh with her character's sharp dialogue. Sophia Petrillo was such a hit that the character even appeared on other shows, such as Blossom and Empty Nest. For her portrayal of Sophia, Getty was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series seven times and won it once in 1988.

During the run of the show, Getty found time for other projects, but none were as successful. She appeared with Andrew McCarthy in the comedy Mannequin (1987). Getty later co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in the box office bomb, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), playing the titular mother.

After The Golden Girls ended in 1992, some of the show's characters were featured on The Golden Palace. In this new version, Getty's character, along with McClannan's and White's, buy a Miami hotel together. The show suffered from the absence of Bea Arthur and lacked the magic of the original. It only lasted one season.
Continuing to work, Getty appeared on such shows as Touched by an Angel and Mad About You. One of her later roles was Grandma Estelle Little in the popular children's film Stuart Little (1999). She retired from acting in 2000 for health reasons. Originally thought to have Parkinson's disease, Getty was later diagnosed with a form of dementia. With some assistance, she lived at her home in Los Angeles for many years until her death at age 84. She died of natural causes on the morning of July 22, 2008, surrounded by family and friends.
At the time of her death, several of her former co-stars expressed their sadness over Getty's passing. "Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever, and I will miss her," Bea Arthur said, according to US magazine. "The only comfort at this moment is that although Estelle has moved on, Sophia will always be with us," Betty White told US.
Getty is survived by her two sons. Her son Carl told People magazine that his mother "was loved throughout the world. . . . She was one of the most talented comedic actresses who ever lived."

Emmy Awards:

1986 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1987 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1988 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Won)
1989 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1990 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1991 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1992 : Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)

Golden Globe Awards
1985 : Actress in a Leading Role Musical or Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Won)
1986 : Actress in a Leading Role Musical or Comedy Series The Golden Girls (Nominated)
1991 : Actress in a Supporting Role Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie The Golden Girls

Drama Desk Award
1982 - Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play - Torch Song Trilogy (Nominated)

Golden Raspberry Awards
1992 : Worst Supporting Actress - Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (Won)

Filmography:
Film:
Tootsie (1982) .... Middle Aged Woman
Mask (1985) .... Evelyn Tullis
Mannequin (1987) .... Mrs. Claire Timkin
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) .... Mrs. Tutti Bomowski
Stuart Little (1999) .... Little's Grandmother
The Million Dollar Kid (2000) .... Sister Rosanne

Television:
Cagney and Lacey (1 episode) (1984)
Copacabana (1985)
The Golden Girls (180 episodes, 1985-1992)
Empty Nest (52 episodes, 1988-1995; regular
The Golden Palace (24 episodes, 1992-1993)
The John Larroquette Show (1 episode) (1996)
Duckman (1 episode) (1997)

Live Theatre:
Torch Song Trilogy (1982) .... Mrs. Beckoff

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