A 'Golden Girl''s Tragic Battle with Dementia
November 19, 2004
ET has learned that ESTELLE GETTY, 81, the actress who played the lovable and quick-witted Sophia on the hit show "The Golden Girls," is suffering from dementia. Despite recent tabloid rumors that she is dying, Getty's former castmates set the record straight Thursday night, saying she is "not near death ... not near death at all."
Tonight on ET, the cast opens up to our JANN CARL about their friend's battle with dementia.
"Golden Girls" stars BETTY WHITE, BEA ARTHUR and RUE McCLANAHAN reunited in Beverly Hills for the DVD release of the popular show and were quick to express how much they missed Getty at the event. "She should be in on all this," said White, who played the ditzy character of Rose on the show. "I went over there not too long ago and after I left, she told her caregiver that I was a nice lady ... it's just heartbreaking." She continues: "She has better days than others, but none of them are too good right now."
McClanahan recalls the last time she was in touch with Getty. "I spoke with her a few months ago on the phone," she said. "But she didn't know who she was talking to. And she didn't say anything but 'yes.' No matter what I said, she replied, 'yes.'"
Arthur, who played Getty's daughter Dorothy on the show, said there were signs of dementia back when they were still doing the show. "We should have known something was wrong right from the beginning because she had terrible trouble retaining her lines," she told ET.
No doubt, Getty would have joined in the girls' excitement for the three-disc DVD set that contains the entire first-season of the show, which makes its debut on shelves November 23. And Bea reveals what she and her castmates would say if Estelle had a lucid moment, "the three of us would say we love you, we love you Estelle, we love you."
For more on Estelle Getty's plight, watch tonight's ET.