Today in Gay History: Estelle Getty Won't Gay Bash

7.22.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Golden Girl Estelle Getty loved the rainbow.

We all know and love Estelle Getty for her role as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls, but did you know that she was also a very vocal AIDS activist? She got involved after losing not only her friend but also a nephew to the disease.

"I've been in show business all my life, and the majority of my friends are gay. I don't deny that. A lot of my friends have died from AIDS," she told entertainment journalist Frank Sanello in 1989. Golden Girls's Sophia was not as enlightened, as seen here.

Getty, whose role in Harvey Fierstein's gay-centric Torch Song Trilogy helped launch her later-in-life career, also alluded to her connection to the gay community in a 1992 interview: "I will not do gay bashing jokes," she told Sandy Newton.

In honor of Getty's life and death five years ago today (and what would be her 85th birthday Thursday), here's video from AIDS Project Los Angeles' 1987 White Party. Getty, who describes AIDS activism as "my most important cause," appears at the 3:40 mark. Also, blurry and grainy video of Getty saying she won't gay bash. That remark comes toward the end, at 7:20.

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