The star won the part as feisty Sophia Petrillo in the 80s US TV sitcom The Golden Girls – after being turned down twice because she did not look old enough.
Finally, she told the make-up artist: “My entire career is down the toilet unless you make me look 80.”
Paying tribute to the star, her longtime care-giver Paul Chapdelaine said: “She went gracefully, in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her family and her very loving care-givers.”
She endured a long battle with dementia and lost her fight three days before her 85th birthday.
CLICK below to watch a classic Golden Girls clip