Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week we’re celebrating the 100th birthday-anniversary of another member of The Golden Girls, the indelible Estelle Getty, who was born on July 25, 1923. Prior to getting cast as Sophia Petrillo, Getty was best known for her stage work, most notably in Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy (1982). She had the least television experience of the four “Golden Girls,” but she left her mark in the sitcom format, playing Sophia Petrillo as a regular not only on The Golden Girls, but also on The Golden Palace and Empty Nest. Additionally, she made cameos as Sophia on both Nurses and Blossom.
However, to honor the unheralded Getty this week, I thought we’d look at a forgotten chapter of her sitcom legacy — a guest appearance she made on Valerie Harper’s City (1990, CBS), a single-season ensemble workplace comedy that I believe had a lot of potential, with well-defined characters in a classical MTM structure. (More of my thoughts here.) Getty guest starred in the 11th aired episode, “Seems Like Old Times,” which was written by Paul B. Price & Stephen Nathan and directed by Howard Storm. She plays an elderly former city manager who shows up to the office one morning thinking and acting as if it’s a normal day on the job… in 1959. It’s not the funniest of City’s 13 episodes, but it’s a rare chance to enjoy Estelle Getty on a sitcom playing something other than Sophia Petrillo — and with a character that affords her both humor and pathos (some of which, unfortunately, hits close to home). But see for yourself — here’s the offering in question, first aired on CBS-TV on May 12, 1990.
Happy Heavenly Centennial, Estelle Getty!
Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more Will & Grace!