There is much to learn about our beloved Estelle Getty!  One thing we do know is that she was incredible, especially as our favorite golden mother, Sophia Petrillo!

In our favorite TV series of all time, Estelle’s character, Sophia was a witty, sharp tongued, sarcastic, firecracker of a woman!  She made us laugh almost to the point of tears and kept us entertained through seven seasons of wise cracks and snide remarks!

Beside her smart mouth, Sophia was a devoted Italian Catholic immigrant from Sicily.  Sophia had such devotion to her religion that she mentioned in several episodes about joining the convent, and actually did in the episode called “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sophia?”  When one of Sophia’s dear friends passed away, Sophia was so wracked with grief and heartache that she wanted to somehow replace her beloved friend and joined the sisterhood.  Of course, Sophia being Sophia, it didn’t turn out so well and she was eventually asked to leave the convent!  But, hey, she tried!

Another episode that showed Sophia’s deep Catholic roots was titled “The Pope’s Ring”.  In this episode, Sophia was determined to not only see, but also talk to the Pope when he was in Miami for a visit!  She traded her two tickets for one and snuck into the “crippled and lame” section so she could get even closer!  Sophia was so determined to get the Pope to notice her so that she could ask him for a blessing for her friend who was sick in the hospital that somehow, she got the Pope’s esteemed ring!  The ring became a bargaining chip to get what she wanted, although it didn’t quite work out the way she had originally intended, the Pope did make it to the hospital to visit sick patients!

Of course throughout the seven seasons of The Golden Girls, there are so many references to Sophia and Dorothy’s religion, too many to count.  As for Estelle, well Estelle was not Catholic at all.  In fact, Estelle Getty was Jewish!

Although Estelle was born in New York, her parents were actually Jewish/Polish immigrants, who worked in the glass industry.  Estelle was so determined to become an actress and dreamt of starting a career as an actress at a young age that for years, she performed in Yiddish theater, which consists of plays written and performed primarily by Jewish people using Yiddish language.  Yiddish, literally translated means Jewish.

Have you ever noticed the many Jewish references through The Golden Girls’ many episodes?  One of the earliest references that I can think of is during the first season when Sophia thinks she is suffering from a heart attack.  After the doctor examines Sophia and surmises that she is not having a heart attack, but an angina attack from over eating all of her rich and delicious Italian foods she offers him some and he turns her down explaining that he ate kreplach at his mother’s house.  Kreplach is a Jewish dumpling usually filled with ground beef or mashed potatoes, boiled and served in chicken soup.  Sophia goes onto to ask him why so many doctors are Jewish and he replies “because their mothers are.”

During another episode, Sophia walks into the kitchen and announces to Dorothy that she is ready for “temple”.  Dorothy responds by saying “we’re Catholic, and its Wednesday”.  During the episode where Dorothy is planning something for her mother’s birthday, Sophia says she wishes she had Jewish sons, “Jewish sons are the best”.  Of course in reality, Estelle did have Jewish sons!  Two, to be exact!

I could go on with many more Jewish references from The Golden Girls, and not all just from Estelle Getty either!  But I’ll let that for you to pick up on the next time you’re enjoying our favorite show!  Which one is most memorable for you?


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