Show is based on the lives and interactions of four older women whom have all been divorced/widowed, and are now roommates. Dorothy's main goal during the series is to find a companion she can relate to while her mother Sophia adds her comical outlook and stories. Rose's St. Olaf-ness makes her a little corny but lovable. One thing that changes nearly every episode is whom Blanche is courting.
Estelle Getty began her acting career in 1978 with _Team-Mates (1978)_ (qv). She also had short roles ...
Sophia Petrillo (née Grisanti) was the daughter of Don Angelo Grisanti and his wife Eleanora (née Bagatelli) from Sicily. Sophia was born in Sicily and moved to New York after she was left at the altar by Guido Spirelli (it was to be an arranged marriage). As a teenager, she was briefly engaged to a young man from her village, Augustine Bagatelli. In the fifth season episode "The Mangiacavallo Curse Makes a Lousy Wedding Present", it was revealed that she was also engaged to another young man, Giuseppe Mangiacavallo (Howard Duff), when she was 14. He left her at the altar. She married Salvador Petrillo (Sid Melton), and they had three children: Dorothy, a divorced substitute teacher whom Sophia depended upon and came to live with; Phil, a cross-dresser and Pyromaniac who was married with kids; and Gloria, who married into wealth, but eventually descended into dire poverty, after losing the fortune that her deceased husband (supposedly) left her, forcing her to beg for Dorothy and Sophia's support.
Sophia was put away in the Shady Pines Retirement Home by Dorothy prior to the start of the series. Sophia had suffered a massive stroke, which, on more than one occasion, was said to have destroyed the part of her brain that acted as a censor; indeed, much of Sophia's popularity comes from her humorous, and often shocking, frankness and general lack of inhibition. Sophia occasionally pretends to be slightly senile.
Members of Sophia's family who appeared throughout the course of the show include: her sister Angela Grisanti Vecchio (played by Nancy Walker), her brother Angelo Grisanti (played by Bill Dana), her daughter Gloria (played by Doris Belack and Dena Dietrich), and, in flashbacks, her husband Sal, her mother (played by Bea Arthur), and her father Don Angelo Grisanti (also played by Bill Dana), and Dorothy herself at a younger age (played by Lyn Greene). Phil, her only son, was never seen and he became sort of a minor running joke as Sophia would mention something lovingly about her children, and then her face would drop and she would add a resigned "...except for Phil". He died later on in the series when he suffered a heart attack (due to his obesity) while trying on large women's clothing (even in his wake, Phil is referred to as wearing women's clothing).
During the series' run, Sophia married Max Weinstock (played by Jack Gilford), Sal's business partner, and attempted to revive Sal and Max's old pizza-and-knish business at the beach, but they soon separated, realizing they were better off as friends "with occasional benefits." Throughout the series, she held a few part-time jobs mostly involving food, including fast-food worker and entrepreneur of spaghetti sauce and homemade sandwiches.
Sophia Petrillo Photos
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