Estelle Getty Dies

The Golden Girls star Estelle Getty has died of dementia, just three days before her 85th birthday. She passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at her Los Angeles, California home.

The actress had endured a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease exhibiting symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s.

Born in New York in 1923, Getty began her acting career with a small part in 1978 comedy Team-Mates.

She went on to land roles in 1982 classic Tootsie and 1985’s Mask, but it was her turn as wise-cracking Sicilian mother Sophia Petrillo on 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls that made her a household name. She is also known for her stint on New York’s Broadway in a 1982 production of Torch Song Trilogy.

Getty later starred in movies including Stuart Little, Throw Momma From The Train, and Mannequin.

Paying tribute to the star, her longtime care-giver Paul Chapdelaine says, “Sadly, today July 22, 2008 at 5:35 a.m. Pacific Time, we said our last good-byes to our little friend Estelle, who passed away and made her journey to the great beyond. Although it was a trip that she never wanted to take, she went gracefully, in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her family and her very loving care-givers.

“Estelle’s legacy will live on and on through the comedy and laughter she gave to us all, which will forever keep us laughing out loud…

“Estelle was a fighter. She always stood up for the underdogs, fought for equality for all, and always pictured a world filled with “Love and Laughter” – her most favourite catch phrase.

“Estelle, we love you and will miss you dearly. We pray that you are met at the Pearly Gate with open arms and a warm welcome by all who have passed before you…. You have touched my life, and the lives of so many others who will never forget you.”

The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actress is survived by two adult sons from her marriage to Arthur Gettleman. He passed away in 2004.