Georgia Engel, the actress best known for playing Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is dead at age 70. According to TMZ, the actress died in Princeton, New Jersey, and did not consult a doctor because her beliefs as a Christian Scientist. She was not married and did not have any children.
Engel joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1972 and would go on to star in 60 episodes over the the last five seasons. Her dim-witted Georgette was a fan favorite, and she would go on to land consecutive nominations for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1976 and ’77. Engel also played Georgette in a handful of episodes on the Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda.
Engel Is Best Known for Her Emmy-Nominated Role on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’
“The writers [on The Mary Tyler Moore Show] seemed to take great glee having a character on the show who appeared to be the most dim-witted and having her say the wisest thing among the whole group,” Engel told Hartford Courant. “That’s great writing because the element of surprise is involved, too. But it’s not like the surprises in bad TV writing, when you have someone who looks or acts like me all of a sudden coming out with four-letter words and doing shocking things.”
Mary Tyler Moore co-creator James L. Brooks recently told the TV Academy that Engel was a talent unlike any he had ever seen. “She was a great character, a great addition to the show. She as much as any actor I’ve ever worked with, when she’s talking people lean forward — just reaching for her words.”
Engel Also Had Recurring Parts on ‘Coach’ & ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
After the series was cancelled, Engel appeared on The Betty White Show (1977-78) Jennifer Slept Here (1983-84) and had a recurring part as Shirley Burleigh on Coach (1991-97). Her career had slowed down by 2000, when personal tragedy stifled her ability to find consistent work. “My mom passed on that year and we had been very close. I couldn’t get any work for the whole year,” she told The Star. “And now I know why, I wasn’t ready. My heart was too heavy to bring joy to my work.”
Engel’s career rebounded in 2003 when was cast as the mother-in-law of Brad Garrett’s character in Everybody Loves Raymond. Engel scored consecutive Guest Actress Emmy nominations, and continued to act regularly on TV for the rest of her life. Her final credit was a 2018 appearance on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.