22 July 2008

"Picture it... Sicily."

We've lost our first Golden Girl.

Estelle Getty had quite a few other roles in her life (Mannequin, Tootsie, Torch Song Trilogy on Broadway), but she was always going to be Sophia Petrillo, the foul-mouthed voice of common sense and doyenne of cutting to the chase on The Golden Girls and, metonymically, all of American life from '85 up until '92.

She was so good on The Golden Girls that I actually made my mother go see Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot in the theatre during its five minute theatrical engagement.

And she is now the first of the Golden Girls to leave us. And she died horribly, just as she lived horribly over the past few years. Lewy Body Dementia... as cruel as Alzheimer's, but not as well known. No red carpet galas for LBD (though there is an Association, and I just bet they rename themselves The Estelle Getty Foundation for LBD Research and Awareness, and if they don't, then some rich people need to get on it), and the woman who showed us a glorious and independent life in the golden years was unable to enjoy her own.

The saddest thing about Estelle Getty's death is merely what it demonstrates about the world. I loved The Golden Girls because it showed me what strong friendship could mean, and how as long as you had a network of people who cared about you to rely on, you could handle anything life threw at you (as long as there was cheesecake and sex to be had). And even that can be taken away by the vicissitudes of the body.

Maybe the Cathars were right.

Hats off to you, Miss Estelle Getty. One way or another, at least the paralyzing fear is gone.

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