Prior to being cast on The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty had worked on stage but had very little on-screen experience. She struggled for a long time to make it as an actress but being cast as Sophia Petrillo was a career-changing event.
When the popular sitcom ended after seven years on NBC, Getty continued playing the role on the short-lived CBS spin-off, The Golden Palace, and then back on NBC for Empty Nest. The actress continued to act in a few projects but retired in 2000 because of illness. She died in July 2008 at the age of 84.
Getty won an Emmy Award for her work on Golden Girls in 1987. That sitcom, as well as All in the Family and Will & Grace, are the only shows in history in which all four main actors won the coveted award.
Over a year after her demise, Getty’s Emmy went up for auction last week on eBay. It comes from a seller of fine-art via the late actress’ estate. The starting bid is $15,000 and, as of this writing, there aren’t any bids.
The organization behind the Emmys, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), isn’t pleased with the auction and is working to have the listing removed. As is the case with Oscars, ATAS maintains that their awards can never be sold. If a recipient or his/her heirs no longer want the trophy then it must be returned to the Academy.
ATAS marketing VP Laurel Whitcomb tells Variety, “When the Emmy winner wins, they sign a form acknowledging the statue is a loan and can keep it as long as they desire. But if they part with it, they must give it back to the Academy… We’ve taken steps to have it taken off the market and retrieved.”