• Kymeria Austin

Cloris Leachman dead at 94

It has come to pass that actress Cloris Leachman, known for her work on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" died today at the age of 94. The Oscar-winner was known for her portrayal of a housewife in "The Last Picture Show" and was comedic delight as the fearsome Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein," as well as the neighbor Phyllis on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, according to various sources.

In her early life, she appeared as Timmy's mother on the "Lassie" series. She had many roles of acting through out her lifetime. Her longtime manager, Juliet Green, stated that "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." In 1989, Leachman toured in "Grandma Moses," a play in which she aged from 45 to 101. For three years in the 1990s, she was seen in major cities as the captain's wife in the revival of "Show Boat." In the 1993 movie version of "The Beverly Hillbillies," she assumed the Irene Ryan role as Granny Clampett.

When Leachman received the Oscar as best supporting actress of 1971, she gave a speech in which she thanked her piano and dancing teachers. She concluded her speech by saying: "This is for Buck Leachman, who paid the bills." Her father ran a lumber mill.

There were tons of other films Cloris acted in.

She grew up on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa, where she was born in 1926. Her family was large. They lived in an isolated wooden house with no running water, but the mother had ideas for her children. Leachman took piano lessons at the age of 5; since the family could not afford a piano, she practiced on a cardboard drawing of the keys. During the 1950's, she became busy in live TV drama, demonstrating her versatility, including in roles that represented casting standards in that era.

Her mother arranged for Cloris to ride on a coal truck to Des Moines for an audition for a Drake University student play. She was given the role and appeared in other plays at a local theater. After high school, she won a scholarship to study drama at Northwestern University. Sadly, she only lasted a year by being a poor student. Later, she went to New York, where she worked as an extra in a movie and understudied Nina Foch in the play "John Loves Mary." In 1953, Leachman married George Englund, later a film director and producer. They had five children: Adam, George, Bryan, Dinah, and Morgan. The couple divorced in 1979. Their son Bryan Englund was found dead in 1986 at age 30.

Unfortunately, according to publicist Monique Moss, "Leachman died in her sleep of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, California. Her daughter was by her side."

Rest in peace to a legend. Heaven has gained another star, that will shine brighter.

Cloris Leachman


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