Georgia Engel, who earned two Emmy noms for playing Ted Baxter’s significant other Georgette Franklin on The Mary Tyler Moore and three consecutive for Everybody Loves Raymond, has died. She was 70. She died Friday in Princeton, NJ, of undetermined causes, her friend and executor John Quilty told The New York Times.
Engel joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1972 when it was a top 10 primetime series and would appear in nearly 60 episodes over its final five seasons. Her dim but well-meaning Georgette was the love interest of self-important anchorman Baxter (Ted Knight), who courted and eventually married her during the November 1975 sweep — though he didn’t seem all that prepared for it. They went on to adopt a child and later had one of their own.
The role earned her back-to-back Emmy noms for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1976 and ’77.
“Georgia Engel was a comedy machine,” Mary Tyler Moore Show co-creator James L. Brooks told the TV Academy’s The Interviews series. “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 appeared as Georgette in a couple of episodes of spinoff series Rhoda and later was a regular — in a different role as the title star’s ditzy best pal — on CBS’ The Betty White Show (1977-78).
She also was a series regular on the single-season ABC comedy Goodtime Girls in 1980 and the net’s 1983-84 sitcom Jennifer Slept Here and recurred as Shirley Burleigh on Coach from 1991-97.
During that era, Engel also guested on such shows as The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy and Fantasy Island. She also did voice work on such toon series as The Care Bears, Hercules and Hey Arnold! and played a giraffe in the 2001 feature Dr. Dolittle 2.
She joined CBS’ megahit Everybody Loves Raymond during Season 7 in 2003 and would score back-to-back-to-back Guest Actress Emmy nominations for playing the mother-in-law of Brad Garrett’s Robert Barone.
Engel continued to work in TV post-Raymond, appearing in episodes of such series as The Office, Two and a Half Men, Passions and Neighbours. She also recurred as Mamie in 20 episodes of Hot in Cleveland, TV Land’s first scripted series, and her final credit was a 2018 appearance in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.
She also was voice of Bobbie in the three Open Season movies.
Along with her work on the big and small screens, Engle appeared in four Broadway shows, including a star turn in the musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone (2006-07). Earlier she trod the Main Stem boards in The Boys from Syracuse (2002), My One and Only (1983) and as a late-run replacement in the original production of Hello, Dolly! in 1969.