'Sophia' of Golden Girls Dead at 84

Veteran actress Estelle Getty suffered from dementia

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 22, 2008 1:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – Estelle Getty, the diminutive actress who spent 40 years struggling for success before landing a role of a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia on TV's The Golden Girls, has died. She was 84. The two-time Emmy winner, who suffered from advanced dementia, died this morning at home, her son told the AP.

"She was loved throughout the world in six continents, and if they loved sitcoms in Antarctica she would have been loved on seven continents," her son said. Getty, who was younger than co-stars Bea Arthur—who played her daughter—and Betty White (Rue McClanahan was the fourth) was the last actress added to the cast. She had been rejected twice because she didn't look old enough.

In this December 1985 file photo, actresses Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Betty White, from the television series "The Golden Girls," are shown during a break in taping in Hollywood.   (Nick Ut)
In this Jan. 29, 1986 file photo, actress Estelle Getty poses in West Hollywood, Calif. Getty died at 84 early Tuesday at home in Los Angeles.   (STEVE DYKES)
In this Aug. 28, 1998 file photo, actress Estelle Getty displays the Emmy she won for "Golden Girls" at the 40th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Calif.   (LENNOX MCLENDON)
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