Tuesday, July 22, 2008

See Ya Sophia ...



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Estelle Getty died today, just three days shy of her 85th birthday.

I thought Estelle’s passing deserved pause because of what she represented to so many people, especially women “of a certain age”.

Estelle made her first professional stage appearance when she was 47 years old. She was 62 when she took on the once in a lifetime role of Sophia on the sitcom ‘The Golden Girls’. She took the part of a tiny, tough talking Italian Mama from Brooklyn and turned it into legend. Her timing was impeccable, her body language astonishing. Estelle spent close to 10 years playing a woman 20 years her senior. It always looked real, it always felt genuine.

‘The Golden Girls’ still is today, 23 years after it premiered, the best sitcom about women. Certainly the best about women over 50. Four women who were strong, funny, capable and independent. They were sexy (Blanche), and soulful (Rose) and smart (Dorothy)- and Sophia held them all together. No need for chubby husbands to outwit, no wacky sidekicks at a crappy job, no ill behaved children to roll their eyes about. Just four real women.

I think the title of Estelle Getty’s auto-biography speaks to how she lived her life - If I Knew Then, What I Know Now. . . So What?

Always present in the moment until advanced dementia took its toll, and even then she was reported to be always laughing, always loving.

Peaceful Journey Estelle.

You can read more about Estelle Getty at HER OFFICIAL WEBSITE

The photo of Estelle came from the NY Times
The Golden Girls shot came from cinemasource.com

23 comments:

CG said...

A well deserved & heart-felt tribute.
I just got your comment on my blog. Was feeling a bit low but you made me smile!! Thank you :)

Tammy said...

What a wonder tribute to her. I thought she was very talented and funny.

Dianne said...

cg - I'm glad it made you smile! thanks for telling me :)

tammy - she was. thanks.

kenju said...

She made an indelible impression on the minds and hearts of many women (both old and young). RIP, Estelle.

Ron said...

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this wonderful tribute to Estelle, Dianne!

It's beautiful!

And I so totally agree with you that it's the BEST sitcom about woman over 50. When it first premiered, I watched it every week without fail.

My two favorite sitcoms at the time were Golden Girls and Designing Women.

BRILLIANT!

Televison has never been the same!

Peaceful Journey Estelle!

Raven said...

Well said. Lovely tribute. I wasn't much of a fan of the show when it aired, but am enjoying the reruns these days. I never saw a picture of her out of make-up before. She was quite beautiful. Nice tribute.

Dianne said...

she certainly did kenju :)

ron - ahhh yes, Designing Women!! The other classic of the 80s/90s - I saw Delta Burke do Steel Magnolias on Broadway, she truly is gorgeous and her voice is melodic.

raven - there are very few photos of Estelle AS Estelle. She was very beautiful.

Charlene said...

awesome tribute

the walking man said...

Sophia always was the best on that husbandless show.

Jeni said...

My kids and I always liked that show and especially Estelle Getty's role -and the way she played it! My Dad's one sister was very much like "Sophia" -very tiny (only 4'9" tall) and she could be feisty as all get out too. So my kids, seeing those qualities in our aunt, began to refer to her as "Sophia" too! And now, both of them are gone. She really did make that part the best of the show.

bobbie said...

Like Raven, I am enjoying the re-runs more often than I watched the show. Sophia was the best! Estelle was amazing. Thanks for this beautiful tribute to her.

Hilary said...

Lovely tribute. I remember when my son was still under 3, and we were out at the mall. An older woman noticed him and came over to chat with him. He looked up at her and asked "Are you a Golden Girl?" She said she was going to remember that when anyone referred to her as old or elderly, and correct them by telling them she's not old.. she's a golden girl.

Dianne said...

thanks charlene

mark - she was absolutely the best!

jeni - I bet your Aunt loved being called Sophia :)

bobbie - I love the story about her being turned down twice, they said she was too young to play Sophia and of course she was. So she showed up in full Sophia make-up. I've seen episodes so many times I can do the dialog with them.

hilary - that's a great story - and I bet that woman did remember that moment forever, I would :)

Odat said...

I was so sad when I heard this.....I liked her!!! she was genuine.....Thanks for the tribute!!!!
Peace

Ivanhoe said...

I was so said to hear that. I also heard that her dementia was so bad that she did not recognize any of the girls anymore...
I did not watch Golden Girls in prime time as I was not here yet, but watched all the re-runs on Lifetime.
Goodbye Sophia...

Knight said...

This is beautifully written. The show really was amazing and incomparable to anything else ever done.
I stay up all hours of the night so I can watch the reruns.

Dianne said...

odat - thank you. Genuine is the pefrect word for Sophia/Estelle

ivanhoe - Lifetime is great for re-runs of good old TV shows. I'm so pleased that a whole new generation is getting to see Golden Girls.

knight - one more thing we have in common! insomnia has its rewards :)
thanks kid.

Farmer*swife said...

I too used to love that show. Sad to hear she passed. I don't think I heard anything about it on the news...maybe I missed it because I'd hate to think they just didn't air it.

Dianne said...

farmer*swife - they covered it - all the news shows did and ET and that other show, Access something. One of those 2 is doing more coverage of her life and career tonight with interviews with 'the Girls'

Sparkling Red said...

I love the Golden Girls! I never knew anything about Estelle Getty, and certainly never knew how beautiful she looked when she wasn't wearing her old-lady costume. Thanks for this.

Dianne said...

sparkling red - thank you! I am so pleased that a few people have discovered something new/more about Estelle from this post. Although she's gone her work is forever.

tt said...

Awww...I hadn't heard this. She was and still is who I aspire to be when I'm old and crotchety. ha ha
I just loved her character.
thanks for sharing gal.

Dianne said...

tt - I want to be Blanche until I just can't do it anymore, then Sophia LOL
you're welcome sweetie