Georgia Engel, an actress who played the charmingly innocent, small-voiced Georgette on the popular 1970s sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and amassed a string of other TV and stage credits, died April 12 in Princeton, N.J. She was 70.
The cause was unknown because she was a Christian Scientist and didn’t see doctors, said her friend John Quilty.
Ms. Engel was best known for her role as Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the character who was improbably destined to marry pompous anchorman Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight.
Ms. Engel also had recurring roles on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Hot in Cleveland.” She was a five-time Emmy nominee, receiving two nods for the late Moore’s show and three for “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Georgia Bright Engel was born in Washington on July 28, 1948, and studied dance with Mary Day, a co-founder of the Washington School of Ballet. Her father was a Coast Guard officer, and the family lived on Governors Island in New York City and Hawaii.
Ms. Engel studied theater at the University of Hawaii and, at 22, landed a supporting part in the long-running Broadway musical “Hello, Dolly!” She also made her screen debut in the 1971 film “Taking Off,” which proved fortuitous when one of the screenwriters, John Guare, asked her to appear in his latest play, “The House of Blue Leaves.”
The play moved to Los Angeles, where Moore was enamored of Ms. Engel’s performance. Months later, Ms. Engel was asked to play Georgette — a role reportedly written specifically for her — on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
“It was only going to be one episode,” Ms. Engel told the Toronto Star, “and I was just supposed to have a few lines in a party scene, but they kept giving me more and more to do.”
Her prolific career included guest appearances on series including “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Coach” and “Two and a Half Men.” Her “Hot in Cleveland” role reunited her with Betty White, her co-star in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1972-1977) and “The Betty White Show” (1977-1978).
Ms. Engel remained a regional theater stalwart and returned to Broadway for a 2002 revival of the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical comedy “The Boys from Syracuse” and, most recently, as the silly Mrs. Tottendale in the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2006-2007.
Survivors include two sisters.
She reflected to the Star that her career was filled with as many flops as successes. “If you ever interview someone who hasn’t had a down time,” she said, “then you’re talking to someone who just hasn’t lived.”