Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET
Actress Georgia Engel, whose winning role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show led to a long career on-screen, has died at age 70.
From 1972 to 1977, Engel played sweet, artless Georgette, the girlfriend and then wife of arrogant news anchor Ted Baxter. She explained how the role that cemented her career came to be, in a 2007 interview with the Toronto Star.
“It was only going to be one episode,” Engel said, “and I was just supposed to have a few lines in a party scene, but they kept giving me more and more to do.” The next Monday, she said, there was a buzz at the door and a giant potted plant with a note welcoming her to the Mary Tyler Moore family.
The role had been written just for her, Engel said.
She died on April 12 in Princeton, N.J., her agent, Jacqueline Stander, confirmed. The cause of death is not known; Engel was a Christian Scientist who did not consult doctors.
“She was a young 70,” Stander told NPR. “She was just a wonderful being. … I will miss her and I know the world will miss her.”
Engel found plenty of television work in the decades that followed The Mary Tyler Moore Show, with recurring roles on Coach, Everybody Loves Raymond and three seasons of TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland alongside her former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Betty White. She also appeared on The Love Boat, Two and a Half Men and The Office.
“She could get a laugh on literally every line you gave her,” Everybody Loves Raymond creator Philip Rosenthal told The New York Times. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Engel also had a career onstage, appearing in the original Broadway productions of Hello, Dolly! in 1964 and The Drowsy Chaperone in 2006. Last year she starred in the musical Half Time, as a member of a senior hip-hop dance team that performs at NBA games. Her role was “a kindergarten teacher with a gangsta rap alter ego,” according to Playbill.
She was born July 28, 1948, in Washington, D.C. Her survivors include two sisters, The Associated Press reports.
Actress Valerie Bertinelli, who starred in Hot in Cleveland, wrote on Twitter that Engel “was the sweetest, kindest, dearest woman. And crazy talented. I will miss her.”
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