'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' Actress Georgia Engel Dies At 70

'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' Actress Georgia Engel Dies At 70

Engel died on Friday, April 12 in Princeton, New Jersey. The cause of her death is unknown since she was a Christian who did not go to the doctor.

Georgia Engel, who played the soft-spoken and innocent Georgette Franklin on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died at the age of 70. Engel died on Friday, April 12 in Princeton, New Jersey. According to People, her friend and executor John Quilty told The New York Times that the cause of her death is still unknown because Engel, who was a Christian, did not consult doctors. Engel had a long career as a TV and stage actor.  She was best known for her role on the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she was nominated for two Emmy awards. She also received three Emmy nominations for her guest role as Pat McDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond.


She began her career onstage in Broadway in 1969 for Hello, Dolly! Engel was known for her high-pitched innocent voice that “sounds like an angel has just sniffed some helium,” as some writer said, and used it to her full advantage on Mary Tyler Moore. After the show ended in 1977, she was then seen in the show Everybody Loves Raymond and she had a recurring role from 2003-2005. 


“She could get a laugh on literally every line you gave her,” Philip Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Betty White was also a part of the 70's show and Engel would often go to work with White on The Betty White Show in the 1970s. She also went to work with her for "Hot In Cleveland". “Georgia was one of a kind and the absolute best,” White said on Monday through a spokeswoman.


Ben Brantley, who reviewed her first stage performance in Hello Dolly noted the echoes of Engel’s 'Mary Tyler Moore' breakthrough in her performance. “Here she is, some 40 years later and 69 years old, deploying that same perplexed stare and breathy little-girl voice,” he wrote. “And she totally lights up the stage, while bringing bright new inflections to a song and dance moves inspired by Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, and Run-DMC. I hadn’t been conscious that I was missing Ms. Engel, but evidently, I was.”


Georgia Bright Engel was born on July 28, 1948, in Washington to Benjamin Engel, an officer in the Coast Guard, and Ruth (Hendron) Engel. She has a sister named Robin Engel who said she also played the role of Ado Annie — the girl who “can’t say no” — in a school production of “Oklahoma!” “There was a talent scout from the Washington School of Ballet,” Robin Engel said in a telephone interview, “and they offered her a scholarship.” Engel is also survived by another sister named Penny Lusk.


Engel graduated from ballet school in 1967 and then went on to bag a degree in theater from the University of Hawaii. Soon after, she landed a role in a Milos Forman movie, “Taking Off,” where one of the screenwriters was John Guare. “I was walking down the street one day after ‘Dolly’ closed to cash my unemployment check for $75,” Engel told The Toronto Star years later, “when I ran into John and he told me I had to be in his play The House of Blue Leaves. I was so thrilled until I got my first paycheck. I was making $74, one dollar less than unemployment.”


Trust someone with such an impressive acting portfolio to be modest. “I don’t consider myself any great shakes as an actor at all,” Engel told The Times in 2015. But everyone would beg to differ. She had such finesse with the way she portrayed her roles and she worked really hard to get things right. The dedication to every role she ever did was unparalleled. 


Claudia A. Dovman commented on FacebookRIP Georgia. You were up there with the greatest comedic actresses taking on airhead blond roles. Loved you! Lisa Rosenbaum Wrote: I loved Georgette on TMTM show so much. Such a wonderful comic actress. May she rest in peace. Jacque Francis O'Boyle wrote: Thank you, Georgia Engle. I first remember you from the pilot episode of the Love Boat when I was 8 years old... Thank you for all the amazing roles you gifted us, and hope you rest in peace!


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