Cloris Leachman: Wikis


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Cloris Leachman

Leachman at the June 2009 premiere for The Proposal
Born April 30, 1926 (1926-04-30) (age 83)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1947–present
Spouse(s) George Englund (1953–1979)

Cloris Leachman (born April 30, 1926) is an American actress of stage, film and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards—more than any other female performer—and one Daytime Emmy Award. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. She is best known for playing the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s TV series Mary Tyler Moore, and later on the spinoff series, Phyllis. She also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, including Young Frankenstein. In recent years, she became very popular for her recurring role as Lois's ruthless mother on Malcolm in the Middle.

Leachman was a contestant on Season 7 (2008) of Dancing With The Stars, paired with Corky Ballas. At the age of 82, she is the oldest contestant to dance on the series. She was voted off in the sixth round on October 28.[1][2]

Leachman was the grand marshal for the 2009 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California.[3] She presided over the 120th parade, the theme being "Hats Off to Entertainment", and the 95th Rose Bowl game.


Early life

Leachman, the eldest of three sisters, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the daughter of Cloris (née Wallace) and Berkeley "Buck" Leachman, who worked at the family-owned Leachman Lumber Company.[4][5][6] She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in 1944. She later majored in drama at Northwestern University and Illinois State University, where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta and a classmate of future comic actor Paul Lynde. Leachman began appearing on television and in films shortly after competing in Miss America as Miss Chicago 1946. Before that she was very active at the Des Moines Playhouse starring in many productions.


Early career

After winning a scholarship in the beauty pageant, Leachman studied acting in New York City at the Actors Studio with Elia Kazan. It was here, at the Actors Studio, that she became romantically involved with the first love of her life, Andrew Morgan. Leachman was a replacement for Nellie Forbush during the original run of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific. A few years later, she appeared in the pre-Broadway production of William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba, but left the show before it reached the Great White Way when Katharine Hepburn asked her to co-star in a production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It.[7]

She appeared in many live television broadcasts in the 1950s, including such programs as Suspense and Studio One. She was also one of the Raisonette Girls in the 1960s. She made her feature film debut as an extra in the 1947 film Carnegie Hall, but had her first real role in Robert Aldrich's film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly,[8] released in 1955. Leachman was several months pregnant during the filming, and appears in one scene running down a darkened highway wearing only a trenchcoat. A year later she appeared opposite Paul Newman and Lee Marvin in The Rack (1956). She appeared with Newman again, in a brief role as a prostitute in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

She continued to work mainly in television, with appearances including the classic It's a Good Life episode of The Twilight Zone, in which she played Bill Mumy's mother; Rawhide. During this period, Leachman notably appeared on the popular anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents in an engaging episode entitled "Premonition" opposite John Forsythe. Later in the decade, Leachman appeared as Ruth Martin, Timmy's adoptive mom, in the last half of season four (1957) of Lassie. She was replaced by June Lockhart in 1958. In 1959, she appeared in an episode of One Step Beyond entitled The Dark Room, where she portrayed an American photographer living in Paris.

Recognition and acclaim

Leachman has won numerous awards during her lengthy career. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in The Last Picture Show (1971), based on the bestselling book by Larry McMurtry. She played the high school gym teacher's wife, with whom Timothy Bottoms' character has an affair. Director Peter Bogdanovich had predicted to Leachman during production that she would win an Academy Award for her performance. The part was originally offered to Ellen Burstyn, who wanted another role in the film.[9]

Leachman has also won a record-setting eight primetime and one daytime Emmy Awards and been nominated more than 20 times for her work in television over the years, most notably as the character of neighbor/landlady/nosy friend Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The character was a fixture on the program for five years and was subsequently featured in a spinoff series, Phyllis (1975–1977), for which Leachman garnered a Golden Globe award. The series survived just two seasons, partly due to the deaths of three cast members during its brief run: Barbara Colby, Judith Lowry and Burt Mustin.

Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom in the opening sequence of Phyllis.

In 1977, she guest starred on The Muppet Show, episode 224. In 1978, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. During the mid and late 1970s, she was featured in several Schoolhouse Rock episodes.[10]

In 1986, Leachman returned to television, replacing Charlotte Rae's character Edna Garrett as the den mother on The Facts of Life. Leachman's role, as Edna's sister, Beverly Ann Stickle, could not save the long-running series, and it was canceled two years later.

She has voice-acted in numerous animated films, including My Little Pony: The Movie as the evil witch mother from the Volcano of Gloom, The Iron Giant, and most notably as the voice of the cantankerous sky pirate Dola in Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 feature Castle in the Sky. Dubbed by Disney in 1998, Leachman's performance in this film received nearly unanimous praise.

Leachman played embittered, greedy, Slavic “Grandma Ida” on the Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, for which she won two Emmy Awards, both for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (once in 2002, then again in 2006). She was nominated for playing that same character for six consecutive years.

Later television credits include the successful Lifetime Television miniseries Beach Girls with Rob Lowe and Julia Ormond. Leachman was nominated for a SAG Award for her role as the wine-soaked, former jazz singer and grandmother Evelyn in the Sony feature Spanglish opposite Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni. She had replaced an ailing Anne Bancroft in the role. The film reunited her with her The Mary Tyler Moore Show writer-producer-director James L. Brooks. That same year she appeared with Sandler again, in the remake of The Longest Yard. She also appeared in Kurt Russell comedy Sky High as the school nurse with X-ray vision.

In 2005, she guest starred as Charlie Harper's neighbor Norma on Two and a Half Men.

In 2006, Leachman's performance alongside Sir Ben Kingsley and Annette Bening in the HBO special Mrs. Harris earned her an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or TV movie as well as an SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.

On May 14, 2006, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Drake University.[citation needed]

Mel Brooks films

Leachman has appeared in three Mel Brooks films. She played Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein (1974), in which the mere mention of her character's name frightens all horses within earshot (an homage to a cinematic villain stereotype).[11] She also appeared in High Anxiety (1977), as demented psychiatric nurse Charlotte Diesel, and as Madame Defarge in the segment of History of the World: Part I (1981) which parodied Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

She auditioned for a chance to revive her role from Young Frankenstein in the 2007 Broadway production opposite Megan Mullally (replacing formerly cast Kristin Chenoweth) and Roger Bart. However, Andrea Martin was cast in the role. Mel Brooks was quoted as saying that Leachman, at 81, was too old for the role. "We don't want her to die on stage," he told columnist Army Archerd.[12] However, due to Leachman's success on Dancing with the Stars, Brooks had reportedly asked her to reprise her role as Frau Blücher in the Broadway production of Young Frankenstein after Beth Leavel, who replaced Martin.[13][14] The Broadway production closed before this could be realized.

Dancing With the Stars

She was a contestant on Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars, and was paired with Corky Ballas, the oldest of the professionals. She is the oldest person to ever compete on the show. Despite coming in last place for five weeks, she won the hearts of millions (including the judges who praised her entertainment skills) and was kept out of the bottom two due to the viewers' votes. Cloris soon became known for her wild antics such as grabbing her partner's crotch during the mambo and ripping off her wig during her jive. A breakthrough came in week 4 when Cloris received her highest score of the competition (22/30).

Week # Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1A Foxtrot/ "I Wish I Were in Love Again" 6 5 5 Safe
1B Mambo/ "Coconut Woman" 6 5 5 Safe
2 Paso Doble/ "Bolero" 5 5 5 Safe
3 Jive/ "The Girl Can't Help It" 6 5 5 Safe
4 Tango/ "The Big Date" 8 7 7 Bottom 2
5 Salsa/ "Tres Deseos" 7 7 7 Safe
6 Cha Cha/ "Come See About Me" 5 5 5 Eliminated

Personal life

From 1953 to 1979, Leachman was married to Hollywood impresario George Englund. Leachman's former mother-in-law was character actress Mabel Albertson, best known for playing Samantha's mother-in-law on the ABC sitcom Bewitched. The marriage produced five children: Bryan, Morgan, Adam, Dinah and George Englund, Jr. Some of them are in show business. Her son Morgan played Dylan on Guiding Light throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

Leachman's son Bryan died from a drug overdose on February 25, 1986.[15] Some reports state that it was an overdose of ulcer medication, while others, such as in the Lifetime Television program Intimate Portrait: Cloris Leachman (in which Leachman participated), state that it was from cocaine.[16][17]

The Englunds were Bel Air neighbors of Judy Garland and two of her children, Lorna and Joey Luft, during the early 1960s. Lorna Luft states in her memoir Me and My Shadows that Leachman was "the kind of mom I'd only seen on TV." Knowing of the turmoil at the Garland home but never mentioning it, Leachman prepared meals for Judy's children and made them feel welcome whenever they needed a place to stay.

Leachman was a friend of Marlon Brando, whom she met while studying under Elia Kazan in the 1950s. She introduced him to her husband, who became close to Brando as well, directing him in The Ugly American and writing a memoir about their friendship called Marlon Brando: The Way It's Never Been Done Before (2005).[18]

Leachman posed "au naturel" on the cover of "Alternative Medicine Digest" (issue 15, 1997) body-painted with images of fruit. This was a parody of the famous Demi Moore Vanity Fair magazine cover photo. A vegetarian, she also posed clad only in lettuce for a 2009 PETA advertisement.[19]

Leachman's autobiography Cloris: My Autobiography was published in March 2009. She wrote the bestselling book with her former husband, George Englund.


Short Subjects:

  • My Strange Uncle (1981)

Television work

Stage work


  1. ^ Us Weekly Issue 718 p.82
  2. ^ Kicked Off TV: Cloris Leachman Voted Off Dancing With The Stars
  3. ^ "Cloris Leachman named Rose Parade Grand Marshal." Pasadena Star-News.
  4. ^ "Cloris Leachman Biography". FilmReference. 2p008. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  5. ^ Longden, Tom. "Famous Iowans - Cloris Leachman". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Wolf, Buck (2005-09-20). "Would America Miss Miss America?". ABC News. Retrieved 2006-09-12. 
  8. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2009-04-15). "Maxine Cooper Gomberg dies at 84; actress in the film noir classic 'Kiss Me Deadly'". Los Angeles Times.,0,2025998.story. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  9. ^ Hebron, Sandra (2000-11-05). "Ellen Burstyn (I)". Guardian Unlimited. Guardian Media Group.,,393615,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  10. ^ History of Schoolhouse Rock
  11. ^ "Blucher" is the Yiddish word for glue, so you can understand why it would upset the horses. (2007-08-12). "Elmer's Gantry". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  12. ^ World Entertainment News Network (2007-06-14). "Cloris Leachman Challenges Mel Brooks To A Duel To Win 'Young Frankenstein' Role High there". Starpulse Entertainment News. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  13. ^ Axed 'Dancing' star Cloris Leachman may reprise 'Frankenstein' role
  14. ^ Leachman to Go 'Dancing' with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN?
  15. ^ Bryan Englund Biography at Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ "Intimate Portrait: Cloris Leachman". Lifetime TV. 
  17. ^ Intimate Portrait: Cloris Leachman at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ "Bad old boys". Guardian Unlimited. 2005-12-31.,6000,1675436,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  19. ^ Cloris Leachman Wears Nothing But Lettuce Leaves! US Weekly, March 31, 2009
  20. ^

External links

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