Our favorite Ma, Estelle Getty of the Golden Girls, passed away yesterday from a progressive brain disease. We’ve been keeping track of various homages to the “tart-tongued” Sophia on the original GG. Lifetime announced today that they will honor her with a 10-episode marathon of Ms. Getty’s most memorable performances on Golden Girls starting at noon on Friday. Set your DVR. Or you can check out some golden YouTube picks over at The House Next Door blog (link via Art Fag City).
Here’s more from other publications:
“When she auditioned, Getty was appearing in Hollywood as the carping Jewish mother in Harvey Fierstein‘s ‘Torch Song Trilogy.’ In her early 60s, she flunked her Golden Girls test twice because she didn’t look old enough. “I could understand that,” she told an interviewer a year after the show debuted. “I walk fast, I move fast, I talk fast.” She came prepared for the third audition, wearing dowdy clothes and telling the makeup artist, “To you this is just a job. To me it’s my entire career down the toilet unless you make me look 80.” The artist did, Getty got the job and won two Emmys” [Associated Press obit]
“I’ve played mothers to heroes and mothers to zeroes,” Ms. Getty wrote in her autobiography, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now … So What?” (Contemporary Books, 1988). “I’ve played Irish mothers, Jewish mothers, Italian mothers, Southern mothers, mothers in plays by Neil Simon and Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. I’ve played mother to everyone but Attila the Hun.” [New York Times obit]
Dorothy (Sophia’s daughter, played by Beatrice Arthur): Hi, Ma. Where are you going?
Sophia: To the boardwalk. I like to watch the old guys rearrange themselves when they come out of the water.
Blanche (Rue McClanahan): I treat my body like a temple.
Sophia: Yeah, open to everyone, day or night.
[The Kansas City Star’s favorite Sophia quotes]
Despite the laughs, early tapings were stressful: White and Arthur had recently lost their mothers, and Getty was beginning to forget her lines — an annoyance that exacerbated her already feisty nature.
BEA ARTHUR: Right from the beginning, Estelle had problems. We would have to give her cue cards.
SUSAN WHITE: She was in trouble. She would write lines on the salt and pepper shakers so she could remember them.
RUE MCCLANAHAN: Estelle was never happy. Something panicked her. By Friday nights, she was a nervous wreck.
[From Entertainment Weekly’s 20th Anniversary honor of Golden Girls]