Memorabilia from Golden Girl Estelle Getty on the block

LOS ANGELES – Property from the estate of “Golden Girl” Estelle Getty will be on offer at Bonhams & Butterfields in their June entertainment memorabilia auction on June 14, 2009, in Los Angeles.

estelle getty golden globe awardEstelle Scher-Gettleman, better known by her stage name Estelle Getty, fell in love with theater at an early age. She gained a knack for one-liners in her late teens and began performing standup comedy in the Catskill region of New York. Getty continued to pursue a career in entertainment, struggling for 40 years before landing the role of a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia Petrillo on the popular sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-1992). Airing on NBC, The Golden Girls featured four female retirees sharing a house in Miami, Fla.; Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak), Betty White (Rose Nylund), Rue McClanahan (Blanche Devereaux) and Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo) was an immediate hit. Getty’s character, Sophia Petrillo, the tiny, handbag-carrying, wise-cracking mother of Dorothy, was initially intended to be a reoccurring role but proved so popular that it was rewritten as a main character. Famous for her zingers, one liners and “picture it” stories, the Sophia character went on to star in two spin-offs: Empty Nest (1988) and The Golden Palace (1992).

Getty was a seven-time consecutive Emmy Award nominee for best supporting actress as Sophia, taking the trophy home once in 1988; two years later, she won the Golden Globe award (shown at left) for best performance by an actress in a television series, also for her role of Sophia. Other notable roles for the actress included Harvey Fierstein’s mother in the original Broadway production of Torch Song Trilogy and films such as Stuart Little (1999), Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Mannequin (1987), Mask (1985) and Tootsie (1982).

Highlights from the estate will include Getty’s above-mentioned Emmy and Golden Globe awards, her trademark straw handbag and oversized eyeglasses used on every episode of The Golden Girls, and a bathrobe stitched with “Sophia” on the front and “The Golden Palace” on the back, worn by Getty on one of the spin-off episodes (estimates upon request). Additional property from the estate will be included in the May 17 Sunset Estate Sale at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles and the June 16 Fine Jewelry auction at Bonhams New York.

Other highlights for this auction, including collectibles related to Hollywood, rock-n-roll, and animation will be announced in mid-May.

Images and estimates are available upon request. The illustrated auction catalog will be online at in the weeks preceding the sale and Los Angeles previews.