84 (passed away Jul. 22nd, 2008)
Jul. 25th, 1923
New York City, New York, USA
4' 10 1/2
Estelle Getty's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1999 - Stuart Little
1992 - Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
1987 - Mannequin
1985 - Mask
1982 - Tootsie
Guest TV Roles
Aunt Jane (Voiced)
Estelle Getty began her acting career in 1978 with Team-Mates (1978). She also had short roles in two critically acclaimed classics, Tootsie (1982) and Mask (1985). In 1985, Estelle began acting in "The Golden Girls" (1985), with Bea Arthur, Betty White (I), and Rue McClanahan. The successful show won two Emmys for outstanding television series, and Estelle herself won an Emmy in 1988. Among other things she's done in TV is playing Sophia Petrillo in shows several times, "The Golden Palace" (1992) and "Empty Nest" (1988) among them. Most recently, Estelle has been in the family film Stuart Little (1999) and playing "Hollywood Squares" (1998).
- Was born to Polish immigrants. Has a brother David and a sister Rosilyn.
- Was a strong supporter of gay rights.
- Getty's career actually began when she was much younger on the 'borscht belt' circuit and Yiddish stage, but she gave it up to raise a family. She returned to acting much later and became a hit on Broadway as 'Harvey Fierstein' (qv)'s meddling mom in "Torch Song Trilogy". It was the L.A. tour of this show that led to her being cast in _"The Golden Girls" (1985)_ (qv) and at age 62 she became an "overnight" TV star.
- Passed away only three days before her 85th birthday.
- Getty played mother to 'Bea Arthur' (qv) on _"The Golden Girls" (1985)_ (qv), however, Bea is actually 15½ months older than Estelle. Estelle was born on July 25, 1923 and Bea was born on May 13, 1922.
- Retired in 2000 after revealing she had health issues. In the mid 1990s, she was misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease. By the end of the 1990s, she was misdiagnosed again, this time with Alzheimer's disease. Later, she was correctly diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, which has similar symptoms to both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
- In 1991, as later reported in Star magazine, Getty helped her 29-year-old nephew Steven Scher, who was suffering from the final stages of AIDS and near death. Because his parents lived in England and his friends were no longer able to care for him in Greensboro, North Carolina, Getty took it upon herself to have him flown to California and admitted to hospice care. He died in January 1992.
- Played the same character, Sophia Spirelli Petrillo-Weinstock, on five different TV series: _"The Golden Palace" (1992)_ (qv), _"The Golden Girls" (1985)_ (qv), _"Nurses" (1991)_ (qv), _"Empty Nest" (1988)_ (qv), and _"Blossom" (1991)_ (qv).