Few things were certain when I was growing up, but The Golden Girls was one of them. More Saturday nights than I care to admit were spent in the company of four plucky gals: Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia, a diminutive Sicilian firebrand who was infamous for her Tourette-like zingers and no BS ‘tude. Golden Girls went on to win four Golden Globes and numerous Emmys, including, for Getty, in 1988, one for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series.
Getty, who suffered from advanced dementia and died on July 22 at the age of 84, wasn’t always a sitcom queen. She got her start in Yiddish theater, but didn’t break out until 1981, when she played Harvey Fierstein’s mother in the Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy. She also had small roles in Tootsie (1982) and Mask (1985). In 1985 she started on The Golden Girls, which was an instant hit and quickly became a staple of NBC’s Saturday night lineup. Getty later reprised the role of Sophia on The Golden Girls spinoff The Golden Palace (1992), and played the part of Grandma Estelle Little in the film Stuart Little (1999).
Visit our Golden Girls 20th anniversary tribute, as well as our New TV Classics gallery, check out some classic Getty YouTube clips after the jump, and feel free to share your memories — and favorite Golden Girl moments — below.