Have you ever heard of an actress who wanted fewer lines? We never had before we watched this Golden Girls interview.
Most actors want as many lines and as much spotlight as possible. However, that wasn’t the case for The Golden Girls star Estelle Getty. Getty played the hilarious matriarch, Sophia Petrillo, on the show. During an interview in 2006, Rue McClanahan and Betty White talked about the making of The Golden Girls and their co-star Estelle Getty.
“We weren’t envious or jealous of each other. We all respected each other and thought each other was funny,” said McClanahan. “And sometimes at the first read-through on Monday for the new show – Bea never knew what was wrong but she would say, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know, there’s just something wrong about that line.’ And I would say ‘Don’t you think that’s a better line coming out of Rose’s mouth?’ And the writers would take notes and go back to work. And very often they listened to us because it was funny but it wasn’t me. Estelle would say anything you gave her.”
Another member of the panel added that “she always asked for less lines. She was the only actress who ever asked for less.”
Estelle Getty, who played Sophia on the show was well known for her stage fright and anxiety. So, it’s not surprising to hear the writers and cast remember how Estelle frequently asked for fewer lines.
Estelle Getty Wrote Her Lines on Bananas While Filming The Golden Girls
Estelle Getty had some serious comedy and acting chops. However, it wasn’t easy for her to perform in front of a live studio audience. In fact, doing so gave her so much stage fright that she had to find creative ways to remember her lines while filming The Golden Girls. In his book, Golden Girls Forever, writer Jim Colucci talked in detail about Getty’s stage fright. The book also included interviews with other cast and crew members.
“She had an awful time remembering her lines because she would freeze and panic,” said Rue McClanahan. “The day before tape day, you could see a big difference in her. She’d be walking around like Pig-Pen under a black cloud. By tape day, she was unreachable.”
The book also detailed the time Estelle’s anxiety got so bad that she wrote her lines on a banana for one of her scenes in the kitchen.
“Should Estelle really be staring at a banana? Is that odd?” writer and producer Mort Nathan to the production assistant Nina Feinberg Wass. “Oh my God, she’s written her lines on the fruit.”
Wass went to the set and told Getty she’ that she had to take the banana. But Getty hilarious refused.
“You may not move my banana!” yelled Getty yelled.
Regardless of her anxiety, Getty landed every hilarious line she had. She even won an Emmy for her role in 1988. So, if writing lines on bananas was the key to The Golden Girls’ success, we say banana-scripts forever!