By Joe Raccuia
Actress Georgia Engel best known for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show has died at the age of 70. For students interested in acting, television, film and stage production, Engel’s career should be studied and enjoyed.
According to THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE and other news outlets, Engel’s friend and executor, John Quilty, said the star died on April 12th in Princeton, New Jersey and the cause of death is unknown because Engel was a Christian Scientist and did not consult doctors.
Engel started her career on Broadway after graduating from college where she landed her first role on stage in an Off-Broadway musical and later went on to star on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! as Minnie Fay.
From Broadway to the small screen, Engel scored a guest role on the 1970’s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show but after appearing in just one episode, landed the role of Georgette Franklin-Baxter, the girlfriend and later wife of TV newsman Ted Baxter.
Once The Mary Tyler Show ended, Engel kept her television presence alive by appearing on the short-lived comedy series The Betty White Show from 1977-1978 and appearing on the hit ABC comedy series Coach as Shirley Burleigh, as well as many game shows and off-Broadway productions.
In 2003, Engel was cast on the hit CBS’ comedy series Everybody Loves Raymond as Robert Barone’s mother-in-law, Pat McDougall, in which she appeared for 13 episodes. Personally, that was my favorite role as her chemistry with actors Fred Willard and Chris Elliot was laugh out loud television.
Along with her heavy list of television credits, Engel also starred in a handful of movies from Dr. Dolittle 2, The Sweetest Thing, and Grown Ups 2.
Throughout her long career, Engel was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards. Two of the nominations were for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for The Mary Tyler Moore Show while the other three were for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Everybody Loves Raymond.
Since Engel’s passing, many of her friends and colleagues expressed their sadness of her passing including Phil Rosenthal, Raymond’s Creator, Writer and Executive Producer who tweeted a simple, “To our dear sweet friend, we’ll love and miss you and your brilliant talent always.” Raymond co-star Patricia Heaton also tweeted and said “Georgia was an absolute angel – so dear, so sweet, so talented. God bless you Georgia!”
Another iconic TV legend remembering Engel this week is her on and off- screen friend Betty White, who simply shared a picture of their friendship with a caption on Instagram saying “Friends Forever… Says It All.”
Personally, I am saddened by this loss because of her brilliance in both acting and comedy. From growing up watching ELR to even recently seeing her reunite with Betty White on the TV Land comedy series Hot in Cleveland Georgia Engel made me laugh, smile, and appreciate the joy of the television medium.
Rest in peace, Georgia Engel… Say hi to Mary and Ted from all of us down here.