- April 30, 1926 (age 94)
- Actor, Comedian, Voice Actor
- George Englund
- Cloris Wallace, Berkeley Claiborne "Buck" Leachman
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 performer) and one Daytime Emmy Award. She co-starred in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
As Miss Chicago, Leachman competed in the 20th Miss America pageant and placed in the Top 16 in 1946. Leachman's longest running role was 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. She had a regular role in the last two seasons of The Facts of Life, portraying the character Beverly Ann Stickle. She also played the role of "granny" in the 1993 film "The Beverly Hillbillies", directed by Penelope Spheeris. In the 2000s, she had a recurring role as Lois's mother Ida Gorski on Malcolm in the Middle. She appeared as a roaster in the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget in 2008. 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 have danced on the series. From 2010 to 2014 she starred as Maw Maw in the television comedy Raising Hope.
Leachman was the grand marshal for the 2009 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California. She presided over the 120th parade, the theme being "Hats off to Entertainment" and the 95th Rose Bowl game.
Leachman was born in Des Moines, Iowa, where she attended Theodore Roosevelt High School. She is the eldest of three daughters of Cloris (née Wallace) and Berkeley Claiborne "Buck" Leachman, who worked at the family-owned Leachman Lumber Company. Her youngest sister, Claiborne Cary (1932–2010), was an actress and singer. Leachman's maternal grandmother was of Bohemian (Czech) descent.
Leachman majored in drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern 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.
After winning a scholarship in the beauty pageant, Leachman studied acting in New York City at the Actors Studio with Elia Kazan. It was there that she met the first love of her life, Andrew Morgan. Leachman was a replacement for character Nellie Forbush during the original run of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific. A few years later, she appeared in the Broadway-bound production of William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba, but left the show before it reached Broadway when Katharine Hepburn asked her to co-star in a production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Leachman appeared in many live television broadcasts in the 1950s, including such programs as Suspense and Studio One. In addition she was cast as the adoptive mother of "Timmy" (Jon Provost) in the 4th season of "Lassie", and was not happy in the role. 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, 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 also appeared as "Judy" in Season one, Episode 2 of the TV series Adam-12.
Recognition and acclaim
Leachman has won numerous awards during her 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 neglected 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.
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 recurring character 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.
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 Stevens' bewildered and frustrated mother-in-law on Bewitched. The marriage produced five children, four sons and one daughter: Bryan (died 1986), Morgan, Adam (who runs a successful law practice in Southern California), Dinah and George Englund, Jr. Some of them are in show business. Her son George Jr is a registered sex offender for lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age. Her son Morgan played Dylan on Guiding Light throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. George Jr is her manager.
Leachman's son Bryan died from a drug overdose on February 25, 1986. 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. In an interview by Cal Fussman in Esquire, Jan. 2009, Leachman stated, "I've been so relieved and so grateful to not have a god to believe in." She called herself an agnostic in an interview with Grandparents magazine. In 2012, Leachman said she was an atheist.