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Died July 22

by Legacy Staff

Estelle Getty was known best for playing a little old lady – Sophia Petrillo on “The Golden Girls” – before she was particularly old herself. We remember Getty’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Estelle Getty was known best for playing a little old lady – before she was particularly old herself. Starring as Sophia Petrillo on “The Golden Girls,” Getty was barely in her 60s when she took on the Emmy and Golden Globe awards-winning role of the elderly great-grandmother, a role that required aging makeup and a white wig. Ironically, Bea Arthur, who played her TV daughter, was in real life older than Getty. A borscht circuit comedian before she made her mark on TV, Getty also appeared on Broadway in “Torch Song Trilogy” and on the big screen in “Mask.” We remember Getty’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including legendary “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek. 


2015: Daron Norwood, U.S. country music singer who charted six times on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs list, dies at 49.

2013: Dennis Farina, U.S. actor and former Chicago police officer known best for his role as Ray “Bones” Barboni in “Get Shorty” and for starring on television’s “Law & Order,” dies of a blood clot in the lung at 69.

Dennis Farina (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)For three decades, Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm, and, when called for, toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, steel-gray hair, ivory smile, and ample mustache, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Farina appeared in films including “Get Shorty,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Midnight Run,” and “Out of Sight.” Read more

2013: Natalie de Blois, U.S. architect who was a pioneer as a female architect, whose designs included the Union Carbide Building in New York City and the Equitable Building in Chicago, dies of cancer at 92.

2012: Frank Pierson, U.S. screenwriter who won an Academy Award for “Dog Day Afternoon” and also co-wrote “Cool Hand Luke,” dies at 87.

Frank Pierson (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)He won an Oscar for writing 1975’s “Dog Day Afternoon” and was nominated for his screenplays for “Cool Hand Luke” and “Cat Ballou.” He wrote and directed 1976’s “A Star Is Born.” Later in his career, he worked as a writer and consulting producer on TV’s “Mad Men” and “The Good Wife.” Read more

2012: Fern Persons, U.S. actress whose credits included “Risky Business” and “Hoosiers,” dies at 101.

2008: Estelle Getty, U.S. actress known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the hit sitcom “The Golden Girls,” dies at 84.

One of the great inside jokes of “The Golden Girls” was that, in real life, the mother was younger than the daughter. Getty, who played the snarky Sophia, was born in 1923; meanwhile, her on-screen daughter Dorothy was portrayed by Bea Arthur – who had been born one year earlier, in 1922. Getty’s small stature, combined with aging makeup and some fine acting, made us believe that she was a little old lady, much older than Arthur. Read more

2008: Greg Burson, U.S. voice actor who voiced many of the Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd, dies at 59.

2007: Laszlo Kovacs, U.S. cinematographer who filmed more than 70 movies, including “Easy Rider,” “Shampoo,” and “Say Anything,” dies at 74.

“Laszlo’s success was in taking movies out of the studio and on the road and into real situations. His ability to do that, along with others, changed cinema forever,” said James Chressanthis, who made a documentary about Kovacs and another Hungarian cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond. Kovacs “could film air like nobody I had ever seen,” “Five Easy Pieces” director Bob Rafelson told the Los Angeles Times, according to Kovacs’ obituary by The Associated Press. “There’s something palpable about the air that somehow or other he could make visible on film: You could sense the density of the air, the small particles of color.” Read more

2005: Eugene Record, U.S. singer who was the lead vocalist for the group the Chi-Lites, dies of cancer at 64.

2004: Illinois Jacquet, U.S. jazz saxophonist who played with Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, and Count Basie, dies of a heart attack at 81.

2000: Eric Christmas, English actor known best for his role as the high school principal in the three “Porky’s” movies, who also guest-starred on TV series such as “Seinfeld” and “Cheers,” dies at 84.

1999: Gar Samuelson, U.S. drummer known best as the drummer for the thrash metal band Megadeth, dies at 41.

1996: Rob Collins, English musician who was the keyboardist for the band the Charlatans, dies in a car accident at 33.

1992: Wayne McLaren, U.S. stuntman, model, and actor who portrayed the Marlboro Man in advertisements in the 1970s and later became an anti-smoking crusader, dies of lung cancer at 51.

1988: Duane Jones, U.S. actor known best for his leading role as Ben in “Night of the Living Dead,” dies of cardiac arrest at 51.

1979: Hope Summers, U.S. character actress known best for playing Clara Edwards on “The Andy Griffith Show,” dies of congestive heart failure at 83.

1967: Carl Sandburg, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. writer known best for his poetry and his biography of Abraham Lincoln, dies at 89.

1953: Cy Kendall, U.S. actor who appeared in over 100 movies, including “The Green Hornet” 1940 serial, dies at 55.

1934: John Dillinger, U.S. bank robber during the Great Depression, is shot and killed at 31 by the police and federal agents as he left Chicago’s Biograph Theater.

1932: Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., U.S. theater producer who was well-known for his revue called “The Ziegfeld Follies,” dies at 65.

With his incredibly elaborate “Ziegfeld Follies” revues, recast almost every year from their creation in 1907 until Ziegfeld’s death in 1932, he created the Ziegfeld Girl and defined the American standard of beauty at that time. His lavish productions, including the groundbreaking musical “Show Boat,” set the bar for Broadway. The biggest showman of his time, Ziegfeld helped launch the careers of Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, and W.C. Fields. Read more

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