Born July 28, 1948, in Washington, Engel graduated from a ballet school on a scholarship before earning a degee in theater from the University of Hawaii. After making her film debut in Milos Forman's "Taking Off" (1971), she was discovered in a production of "The House of Blue Leaves" by TV star Mary Tyler Moore and her husband Grant Tinker, producers of the wildy popular "Mary Tyler Moore." Cast as bubbly Georgette, her part kept expanding as audiences delighted in her sweet delivery in contrast to her TV husband Ted Knight's comedic bluster as narcissistic anchorman Ted Baxter. Georgette remained a part of the show for the rest of its run.
After "Mary Tyler Moore" ended, Engel was a regular or recurring character on such shows as "Coach" (1991-1997) and "Everybody Loves Raymond" (2003-2005), returning to the stage in the '90s in "Nunsense." In 2006, she was in the original Broadway cast of "The Drowsy Chaperone."
Engel reunited with "Mary Tyler Moore's" Gavin MacLeod in 2018.
Engel had a late-career hit as Mamie on the TV Land series "Hot in Cleveland," working with her old "Mary Tyler Moore" co-star Betty White. Today, White told The Times Engel was "one of a kind and the absolute best."