Georgia Engel, seen here at a Television Critics Association commission in August, is best known for her role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". She died Friday at 70. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, Invision / AP)
Mary Tyler Moore may have been the one who transformed the world with her smile, as Moore's sitcom theme says, but co-star Georgia Engel helped ensure that viewers' smiles never blinded them.
Engel is best known for her role as Georgette Franklin with her sweet voice, the sweet and innocent girlfriend and later wife of the television anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) in one of the best sitcoms ever, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show . "
Younger viewers might know her as Brad Garrett's mother-in-law in "Everybody Loves Raymond", and she also starred in recurring roles in "Coach", in the soap "Passions" and, more recently, in "Hot in Cleveland," that reunites her with the cast partner of "Moore" and the friend Betty White.
Engel died on Friday at the age of 70 in Princeton, New Jersey, said John Quilty, identified as his friend and performer by the Associated Press. Quilty said the cause of death was not known because he was a Christian scientist and did not visit doctors, according to AP.
Despite a successful and long-lasting career, which included 2018 appearances on "One Day at a Time" by Netflix and a musical theater, "Half Time", Engel will always be better known as the sweet, naive but subtly wise Georgette, the kind of real friend that everyone can use. Apparently, Engel was also a good friend in real life, while maintaining ties with his co-stars of "Moore" over the years, appearing in two white comedies, "The Betty White Show" and "Hot in Cleveland".
"Betty is one of my closest friends, so it was a special joy when I got to be part of" Hot in Cleveland "with her," Engel said in a Television Critics Association panel in July, focusing on a special of the PBS that celebrates White's career.
Engel, who had a background in musical theater, but only a couple of television credits when he first appeared on "Moore" in his third season, admirably climbed aboard the sitcom without a hitch – it's not an easy feat – and has established itself in a star-studded veteran, including Moore, Knight and Edward Asner.
Engel and Betty White, who played the naughty housewife Sue Ann Nivens, helped the popular comedy, which worked seven seasons between 1970 and 1977, as transition support players such as original cast members, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman , they performed their spin-off comedies to the power of "Moore" show success. Their predecessors left great shoes and Engel and White filled them admirably.
White's seductive Sue Ann, a master of pettiness 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 fill part of the empty best-friend created by the departure of the # beloved Rhoda Morgenstern of Harper.
Fortunately, the producers have not tried to make Georgette a carbon copy of the wise and from Rhoda's sharp tongue. In Georgette, they wrote – and Engel embodied – a completely new character on the show: an angelic and innocent woman whose lack of common sense seemed less the result of ignorance than of supreme innocence.
Georgette was less central than some of the other characters, but Engel obviously made a big impression on his acting colleagues, earning two Emmy nominations as a supporting actress. (Later she received three nominations for guest actress for "Raymond".)
Georgette's lack of refinement and incomprehension provided much laughter, but she was never the target of the joke and Engel imbued the character with a wisdom about life that is not found in textbooks.
Probably it was not wisdom, but patience, which explained why he was stuck with a pompous root like Ted, whose forgetfulness for his own faults was one of the show's best and longest laughs. And, compared to Ted, however, Georgette may seem like a genius.
Georgette and Ted eventually got married (with the votes administered by a young John Ritter). They adopted a boy and later Georgette got pregnant and had a daughter.
Engel joined Moore, White, Harper and Leachman for a memorable 2013 meeting on "Hot in Cleveland". It was nice to see the team all-star together but also sad, as Harper was facing a deadly cancer (fortunately, she's still with us) and Moore, who suffered from diabetes, was in physical decline. She died in 2017.
After "Moore", Engel joined White in "The Betty White Show", a short-lived sitcom, before moving on to other roles over the decades, including appearances in "Office" and "Two and a Half Men" and a role in "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway.
He expressed his gratitude to White for helping her on the TCA panel.
"After Moore & # 39; ended … everyone went off to do their spin-offs, and I discovered later that Betty said," Well, what about Georgia? & # 39; " Engel said. "And so she took me with her, it was a short series, but she only talks about Betty's oblivion."
He also talks about the value of Engel as a friend, a feature that apparently applied to the woman and her memorable character. And, thanks to TV replies, you can remain that friend even for the spectators.
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