• February 1, 2023

Actress Cloris Leachman, Who Played Both Silly And Serious, Dies At 94 : NPR

Cloris Leachman, pictured in 1974, appeared to be a game for everything from a creepy housekeeper in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein to ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. George Brich / AP hide caption

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George Brich / AP

Cloris Leachman, pictured in 1974, appeared to be a game for everything from a creepy housekeeper in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein to ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

George Brich / AP

Actress Cloris Leachman portrayed women with wit and wit over a seven-decade career. She won an Oscar and nine Emmys, and her career has been relentlessly inventive. The actress died of natural causes on Wednesday in Encinitas, California, according to her press rep, Monique Moss. She was 94 years old.

Leachman was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa. When she was 11 she worked at the Des Moines Playhouse and when she was 17 she had a radio show giving style advice to women. After college, she went to New York and the Actors Studio. She met and married Hollywood impresario George Englund and they had five children together.

Leachman (center) is best remembered for playing the crazy landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Here she appears in a scene with Mary Tyler Moore (left) and Valerie Harper. AP hide caption

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Leachman (center) is best remembered for playing the crazy landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Here she appears in a scene with Mary Tyler Moore (left) and Valerie Harper.

AP

When their children were young, Leachman worked tirelessly on stage, on television, and in film. Best remembered, she played Phyllis Lindstrom, the wacky, curious landlady on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. At the age of 45, she gave an Oscar-winning performance on The Last Picture Show in 1971. Her character was Ruth Popper, a married woman who was having an affair with a high school senior in a dying Texas city. In 2009, Leachman told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about this film dramatic final scene in which Ruth’s lover returns after he has left her. She said the scene almost didn’t make it into the film – the producer wanted to cut it out entirely, but director Peter Bogdanovich had an argument. “He insisted and fought and kept my scene, so of course I won the Oscar,” said Leachman of her award for best supporting actress.

In 2008, Leachman told the New York Times, “I’m just a simple person with a stupid bone.” Kevin Winter / Getty Images for AFI hide caption

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Kevin Winter / Getty Images for AFI

In 2008, Leachman told the New York Times, “I’m just a simple person with a stupid bone.”

Kevin Winter / Getty Images for AFI

The actress seemed like a game for everything from playing one creepy housekeeper in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein to participate in ABC’s Dancing With the Stars at the age of 82. “I don’t want to prove anything,” she said to one of the dance teachers on the show. “I just want to be the best jive dancer I can be.”

Leachman emphasized that she wanted to reach people through the characters she played – but she wasn’t exactly like those characters. In 2008, she said The New York Times: “If I played a quirky role, I would have always made sure I was with Johnny Carson to show that I am not the person I played. I would be myself. And so the people had to. ” Know me I think and I think they know that I am honest and honest and real. … I’m just a simple person with a stupid bone. “

She was goofy, serious, hardworking, and had a very, very long career – all of these qualities helped make her one of the most decorated and eclectic actresses in Hollywood.

editor Ted Robbins and digital producer Nicole Cohen contributed to this report.

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