Georgia Engel, shown here in a panel of Television Critics Association in August, is best known for her role on & # 39; The Mary Tyler Moore Show. & # 39; She died Friday at 70 o'clock. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, Invision / AP)
Mary Tyler Moore is perhaps the one who changed the world with her smile, just like Moore's sitcom theme, but co-star Georgia Engel helped ensure that the grin of viewers never faded into frowns.
Engel is best known for her role as softly voiced Georgette Franklin, the sweet, always so innocent girlfriend and later the wife of the self-confident TV anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) on one of the best sitcoms ever: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show "
Younger viewers may know her as the mother-in-law of Brad Garrett & Robert's & # 39; Everybody Loves Raymond & # 39; and she also appeared in recurring roles on & # 39; Coach & # 39 ;, the & # 39; passions & # 39; of soap and, more recently, in & # 39; Hot in Cleveland, "who reunited her with" Moore "castmate and friend Betty White.
Engel died Friday at the age of 70 in Princeton, New Jersey, said John Quilty, identified as her friend and performer by the Associated Press. Quilty said the cause of death was unknown because she was a Christian scientist and did not visit doctors, according to AP.
Despite a successful, long-term career, including 2018 appearances in Netflix & # 39; One Day at a Time & # 39; and a theater musical, & # 39; Half Time & # 39 ;, Engel is always best known as the sweet, gullible but subtly wise Georgette, the kind of true friend that anyone can use. Apparently Engel was also a good friend in real life, because she had ties with her "Moore" co-stars over the years, and she played in two white comedies, "The Betty White Show" and "Hot in Cleveland. "
"Betty is one of my dearest friends, so it was a special joy to be with her at & # 39; Hot in Cleveland & # 39;" said Engel in July to a panel of Television Critics Association that focused on a PBS special in which White's career was celebrated.
Engel, who had a background in music theater but only a few TV credits when she first appeared on & # 39; Moore & # 39; appeared in the third season, admired admirably aboard the smooth-running sitcom – not an easy feat – and settled in a cast of star veterans, including Moore, Knight and Edward Asner.
Engel and Betty White, who played naughty, happy housewife Sue Ann Nivens, helped the popular comedy, which lasted seven seasons from 1970 to 1977, with transition-supporting players as original cast members Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman to their own spin-off comedies. were based on the success of the "Moore" show. Their predecessors left big shoes behind and Engel and White filled them admirably.
White & # 39; s convoluted, lusty Sue Ann, a mean-spirited master behind a fake smile, became more of a breakout character, but Engel performed an impressive and perhaps more difficult task with Georgette, who had to be part of the created invalid friend filling by the departure of the beloved Rhoda Morgenstern from the Harper.
Fortunately, the producers did not try to make a copy of Georgette's knowing Rhoda with his sharp tongue. In Georgette they wrote – and Engel embodied – an entirely new character in the series: an angelic, unsuspecting woman whose lack of skill seemed less like ignorance than supreme innocence.
Georgette was less central than some other characters, but Engel clearly made a strong impression on her acting colleague's, earned two Emmy nominations for supporting actress. (Later she received three guest actress nominations for "Raymond.")
Georgette & # 39; s lack of refinement and misunderstanding caused a lot of laughter, but she was never the target of the joke and Engel drenched the character with a wisdom about life that cannot be found in textbooks.
It was probably not wisdom, but tolerance, which explained why she was holding on to a pompous clod like Ted, who was unaware of his own flaws and was one of the best and longest-lasting laughter lines on the show. And, compared to Ted, anyway, Georgette can seem like a genius.
Georgette and Ted eventually married (with vows managed by a young John Ritter). They adopted a boy and later Georgette became pregnant and had a daughter.
Engel came with Moore, White, Harper and Leachman for a memorable 2013 meeting about & # 39; Hot in Cleveland & # 39 ;. It was great to see the all-star team together, but also sad, because Harper was confronted with life-threatening cancer (luckily she is still with us) and Moore, who suffered from diabetes, had physically deteriorated. She died in 2017.
After & # 39; Moore & # 39; Engel joined White at & # 39; The Betty White Show & # 39 ;, a short-lived sitcom, before moving on to other roles over the decades, including guest appearances at & # 39; the Office & # 39; and & # 39; Two and a Half Men & # 39; and a role in "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway.
She expressed her gratitude to White for helping her with the TCA panel.
"After & # 39; Moore & # 39; finished … everyone started their own spin-offs and I found out later that Betty said," Well, what about Georgia? ", Engel said." And so she took me, it was a short-lived series, but it just speaks to Betty & # 39; s self-forgetfulness. "
It also speaks to Angel & # 39; s value as a friend, a characteristic that apparently applied to the woman as well as her memorable nature. And thanks to TV repeats, she can also remain that friend for viewers.
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