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"Golden Girls" star Estelle Getty dies at 84

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emmy-winning actress Estelle Getty, best known as a wise-cracking octogenarian on the popular 1980s and ‘90s sitcom “The Golden Girls,” died on Tuesday. She was 84.

Getty, who spent four decades toiling in show business before winning fame and critical recognition as Bea Arthur’s sassy, 80-year-old mother on the hit show, had been suffering from dementia.

“As of 5:35 this morning surrounded by her family in her Hollywood Hills home, Estelle Getty passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes,” her longtime manager, Alan Siegel, said in a statement.

“Her family and close friends thank everyone for being so loving and supportive of Estelle in her last few years,” Siegel said.

Born Estelle Scher in New York City in 1923, Getty wanted to be an entertainer from an early age, despite her small size and the initial objections of her Polish immigrant parents.

She got her start as a comic at resorts in New York state’s Catskill mountains and pursued her dream as an actress in regional theater and off-Broadway productions while raising two sons and working office jobs to make ends meet.

She won a breakthrough role in a production of “Torch Song Trilogy” that brought her to the attention of Hollywood. She was ultimately cast as the oldest of four female retirees living together on “Golden Girls” even though she was slightly younger than her screen daughter.

Getty won two Emmys for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the show.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Beech