Childhood & Early Years
Georgia Bright Engel was born on July 28, 1948 in Washington, D.C., USA. Her father Benjamin Franklin Engel was an admiral in the US Coast Guard. Her mother’s name was Ruth Caroline née Hendron. She had two sisters, Penelope Ann and Robin Ruth. In 1967, her sister, Robin, was crowned Miss Hawaii.
Due of her father’s transferable job, Georgia Engel spent her early years in various cities around the USA. She studied at the Kodiak Island Borough School District in Alaska. Later, she attended to the Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland.
During her teens, Engel studied at the ‘Academy of the Washington Ballet’. Although her teachers told her that she would never become a ballerina, she did not give up her hopes and graduated from there.
Her father was posted in Hawaii when she graduated from high school. Thereafter, she enrolled in the ‘University of Hawaii’ at her parents’ insistence, eventually earning her degree from there.
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Soon after finishing her graduation, 20 years old Georgia Engel moved to Washington, D.C. where she joined ‘American Light Opera Company’. She possibly worked there until its closure in 1968.
In 1969, she moved to New York City, where she first appeared in the Off-Broadway revival of ‘Lend an Ear’. Later in December, she joined the Broadway production of ‘Hello, Dolly!’, appearing in the role of Minnie Fay for a year.
In February 1971, Engel appeared in another Off-Broadway production, ‘The House of Blue Leaves’, which eventually moved to Los Angeles. In the same year, she debuted in films, playing the role of Margot in ‘Taking Off’. Her role earned her a ‘BAFTA Award’ nomination in the ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ category.
In 1972, she joined ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’, appearing in its 56 episodes as Georgette Franklin Baxter. In 1972, she also appeared in her second film, ‘The Outside Man’. Two years later, she reprised the role of George Franklin in ‘Rhoda’, a spinoff of ‘The Mary Taylor Moore Show’.
‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ ended on March 19, 1977; and from September that year, she joined ‘The Betty White Show’, appearing as Mitzi Maloney in 14 of its episodes. It was followed by the sitcom 'Mork and Mindy' (1979), in which she played Ambrosia Malspar.
From 1977 to 1982, Engel appeared in four episodes of the comedy/drama show ‘The Love Boat’; and from 1978 to 1983, she was seen in five episodes of ‘Fantasy Island’. Meanwhile, she had her third film 'A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story' released in 1978.
In 1980, she was chosen to play Loretta Smoot in the sitcom ‘Good Time Girls’, appearing in 13 episodes. Her fourth film ‘The Day the Women Got Even’ was also released in the same year.
In 1983, Engel started voice acting by doing the voiceover for Willow Song in the animation special ‘The Magic of Herself the Elf’. For a year, between 1983 and 1984, she played the role of Susan Elliot in the sitcom ‘Jennifer Slept Here’.
She worked in two films in 1985. She played the role of 'Mama' Porter in ‘Papa Was a Preacher’ and voice-acted for the character of Love-a-Lot Bear in ‘The Care Bears Movie’. These were followed in 1989 by the movie ‘Signs of Life’, in which she played Betty.
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In the 1990s, she mainly worked in television productions, appearing as Shirley Burleigh in 17 episodes of ‘Coach’ between 1991 and 1997. In addition, she also enacted the role of Georgette Franklin Baxter in the 'Elaine Takes a Wife' episode of 'Hi Honey, I'm Home! (1992).
Engel returned to the big screen in 2001 with ‘Dr. Dolittle 2’, in which she voice-acted for the role of the giraffe. It was followed by her role as Vera in the romantic comedy film ‘The Sweetest Thing’.
From 2003 to 2005, she appeared as Pat MacDougall in 13 episodes of 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. She won the ‘Prism Award for Best Performance in a Comedy Series’ in 2006 for her role in the sitcom. Her role also earned her two ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nominations in the ‘Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series’ category, in 2003 and 2005.
Concurrently with working in TV series and movies, Engel remained active on stage. In May 2006, she returned to Broadway as Mrs. Tottendale in the musical ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’. Later, she travelled to North American with the production company, performing in cities like Toronto, San Francisco and Denver, between 2007 and 2008.
From 2006 onwards, she appeared in films like 'Nunsensations' (2007), 'Grown Ups 2' (2013), ‘The Family Lamp’ (2016), and 'Groomzilla’ (2017). Additionally, she gave voice overs in ‘Open Season’ (2006), ‘Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run’ (2006), ‘Open Season 2’ (2008) and ‘Open Season 3’ (2010).
Some of Engel’s notable television performances were seen in 18 episodes of ‘Hot in Cleveland’ (2012 to 2015) and guest roles in ‘Passions’ (2007), ‘The Office’ (2012), ‘Two and Half Men’ (2012) and ‘One Day at a Time’ (2018).