Estelle Getty, best known for her role as tiny dynamo Sophia "Ma" Petrillo on '80s sitcom The Golden Girls, passed away early this morning, three days before her 85th birthday. She had been battling the degenerative nervous-system disease Lewy Body Dementia for years.
Getty's breakthrough role on The Golden Girls came at the age of 61, after nearly 40 years of working off and on as a stage and character actor (including a bit part in Tootsie and Broadway run in Torch Song Trilogy). She received seven Emmy nominations (and one statue) and three Golden Globe nods for her role as the show's matriarch (though she was actually younger than her co-stars Bea Arthur and Betty White). Getty reprised the role of Sophia in several spin-offs, in addition to a lone starring turn in 1992's Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, and a handful of other supporting parts before retiring in 2000 due to her health.