Photo Credit: Estelle Getty/

Age does not bring you wisdom, age brings you wrinkles

Actress Estelle Getty was a year younger than her co-star Bea Arthur, when they respectively played acid-tongued mother and stoic daughter in hit 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls.

Playing a character 20 years older than her real sixty-something age in the Miami retirement flat-share comedy, Estelle delivered some of the series’ saltiest one-liners.

“Your life is an open blouse,” she once said to man-hungry Blanche, played by Rue McClanahan.

Estelle had actually dressed up in a little old lady costume for her audition to ensure she got the part. Only 4ft 11 in height, a New Yorker born to Polish parents, Estelle had enjoyed a long stage and TV career before finally hitting it big in her sixties. Comedy was her particular forte, but on stage, she was a formidable dramatic actress too.

Her role as Sophia led to two TV-spin offs and film roles in which she reprised her abrasively funny mother roles – including in the Sylvester Stallone comedy, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

She was an ardent gay rights supporter and fundraised for AIDS charities. In her later years, she was an ambassador for a charity providing co-operative living for older people.

Estelle frequently stole the show. She was nominated for Emmy awards eight times, winning once. “After 50 years in the business, I’m an overnight success,” she said when she finally collected her award.