Believe it or not, Estelle Getty was one year younger than Beatrice Arthur, who played Sophia’s daughter, Dorothy. When “The Golden Girls” first began, Getty was 62 years old and Arthur was 63, according to Good Housekeeping. Betty White, who played Rose, was also 63 at the time, with the youngest of the ladies being Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche. McClanahan was 52 years old when the series premiered (via Parade).
Getty may have been only 62, but she wanted the role of the much older Sophia so badly that she made sure to look the part at her audition. According to The New York Times, Getty showed up for the audition looking like “a little old lady” (via ABC News). She even had that famous straw purse with her. Getty found that iconic purse while shopping around in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles before she went in to read for the role and that purse made it through the series’ entire seven-season run (via The New York Post).
Sadly, Getty was the first of the four lead “Golden Girls” actresses to pass away. She died at the age of 84 from Lewy body dementia in 2008. The next year, Arthur died from cancer at age 86, and the year after that, McClanahan died from a stroke in 2010. As of this writing, White, is the only Golden Girl still living.