Farewell Sophia Petrillo
By Siran Babayan
A wise person once said, “Life is like a piece of shredded wheat.” No, it wasn’t Gandhi. It was Sophia Petrillo, aka Estelle Getty.
Sophia came to this country a poor Sicilian immigrant with nothing but a pizza recipe and a dream (she was robbed by Mama Celeste). Her son was a cross-dresser, and her daughter , Dorothy, got knocked up in high school and married a dumb bachagaloop who wore a toupee.
After escaping from a lovely nursing home called Shady Pines, Sophia spent the remainder of her life living in Miami with her daughter and two other women: dimwitted but lovable Minnesotan Rose, and bed-hopping but lovable tramp Blanche.
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They laughed and ate cheesecake. They talked about their first times and ate cheesecake. They helped the police nab a couple of jewel thieves and ate cheesecake.
Sophia dined with the likes of Burt Reynolds; sang with Julio Iglesias; and claimed to have had an affair with Picasso. Her hobbies included stealing money from her daughter’s purse and going to the beach so she could watch old men rearrange themselves when they get out of the water. She’s probably still doing that somewhere in Miami.
Getty may have gone to that retirement community in the sky, but Sophia and her straw purse will forever live in television. The Golden Girls not only changed how we look at dessert, but taught us how to laugh with the elderly, and whether you’re gay, straight or just short and perpetually cranky like her, Sophia spoke to the Italian yenta in all of us.
We should all aspire to be half the person Sophia was (half is fine; she was just under five feet). And may we all be a burden on our children in our old age.
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