‘The Golden Girls’: Estelle Getty Picked out This Fashion Accessory for Sophia

The Golden Girls is still as popular today as it was in its 1985 premiere. The TV sitcom followed the lives of four older women living together in Miami. Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) is the oldest of the roommates, always offering wisdom and a dose of humor. Upon landing the coveted role, Getty went to work making her own.

'The Golden Girls' actor Estelle Getty wearing a blue dress and glasses, and standing on a lanai.
Estelle Getty I Theo Westenberger/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

‘The Golden Girls’ star Estelle Getty’s search for the right purse

When Getty was cast as Sophia, she transformed to look the part. The actor wore a white wig and underwent 45 minutes of makeup to play the iconic character. Aside from hair and makeup, Getty also switched up her clothing.

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In Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai, author Jim Colucci reveals Getty was responsible for Sophia’s signature style. Getty purchased polyester dresses, orthopedic shoes, gloves, and hats from various thrift shops. However, there was one item Getty insisted Sophia needed. “She was very insistent about finding the right purse,” Getty’s manager Juliet Green explained. Getty’s flair for fashion and bargains led her to buy the straw purse that became synonymous with Sophia. The handbag was so important that The Golden Girlswardrobe department had another one made if they ever needed it.

Sophia Petrillo was the first role cast

In February 1985, casting began for The Golden Girls. The producers quickly went to work on finding Sophia, which was the first role to be cast. Getty’s transformation into the eldest roommate paid off. However, the audition process was long and hard.

In her memoir If I Knew Then What I Know Now…So What? Getty revealed she was called back several times within a month. “I never auditioned that many times for one role. I kept wondering if they don’t want me to change anything, then why do they keep asking me back?” she wrote. Getty’s audition process might have been difficult, but the producers knew she was the right choice for Sophia.

Fans loved Sophia Petrillo

Sophia was initially supposed to be a guest star; however, she was made a series regular after positive feedback from the preview audiences. Sophia is viewed as the funniest member of the group due to her unfiltered comments. According to IMDB.com, writers gave the raciest lines to Sophia because her stroke left her unable to control what she said.

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Sophia often cracks jokes about her daughter Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), but the two have a tight bond. When Sophia isn’t throwing jabs at her roommates Rose Nylund (Betty White) and Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), she’s offering them advice via her Sicily stories. Getty portrayed Sophia throughout the show’s seven-year run and won an Emmy for her work in 1988. She later appeared in the spinoffs The Golden Palace and Empty Nest.