Various actors are lucky enough to score one memorable role throughout their entire career, but it’s especially impressive if an actor is able to be remembered for a variety of different performances. Cloris Leachman was one of those actresses, with her impressive resume including movies like The Last Picture Show and Young Frankenstein. Sadly, it’s been announced that Leachman has passed away at the age of 94.
It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time. There was no one like Cloris. With a single look she had the ability to break your heart or make you laugh ’till the tears ran down your face. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic.
Following early work in stage productions like South Pacific and As You Like It, Cloris Leachman made the jump to TV, with her noteworthy appearances at the late ’50s/early ‘60s period including Gunsmoke and Twilight Zone. As far as the film realm goes, Leachman’s early work included Kiss Me Deadly, The Chapman Report and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it was her role as Ruth Popper in 1971’s The Last Picture Show that earned her numerous accolades, including a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Three years after that, Leachman starred as Frau Blücher in the Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein.
In the decades that followed, Cloris Leachman’s film credits included The Muppet Movie, History of the World, Part I, Prancer, A Troll in Central Park, The Iron Giant, The Castle in the Sky and Spanglish. Her final cinematic appearances included reprising Gran for The Croods: A New Age, Jump, Darling and High Holiday, all of which were released in 2020. Not to Forget, which is now a posthumous release, doesn’t have a release date yet.
Of course, one can’t talk about Cloris Leachman’s acting career without delving deeper into her TV work. In this medium, she’s arguably best known for playing Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a role for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series twice. Phyllis would also score her own self-titled spinoff series that lasted two seasons, as well as appeared in a few episodes of fellow Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda. From 1986 to 1988, Leachman starred as Beverly Ann Stickle in The Facts of Life.
Younger TV viewers might remember Cloris Leachman more from her time as Grandma Ida on Malcolm in the Middle or Barbara June Thompson on Raising Hope. Phineas & Ferb fans might have even recognized her in a few episodes for voicing Heinz Doofenshmirtz’s mother. Leachman’s final TV credits included Justice League Action, American Gods, Elena of Avalor, Teachers and the Mad About You revival.
We here at CinemaBlend express our condolences to Cloris Leachman family and friends during this difficult time. Feel free to share what moves and/or TV shows of Leachman’s you liked best in the comments section below.