Cloris Leachman


Actress
Cloris Leachman

About

Birth Place
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Born
April 30, 1926

Biography

With a career that spanned a staggering six decades on stage and screen, actress Cloris Leachman was one of primetime's funniest comediennes and a favorite player in the classic film satires of Mel Brooks. A former beauty pageant winner who began her career on the Broadway stage, Leachman's first high profile achievement was her Academy Award-winning performance in Peter Bogdanovich's st...

Family & Companions

George H Englund
Husband
Born c. 1982.
George H Englund
Husband
Producer, director. Married on April 19, 1953; divorced in 1979.

Notes

"I played it with my own body, my skin, my face. I wanted that scorned look to come out through my skin rather than my mouth."---Cloris Leachman, on her performance in "The Last Picture Show"

"I would like to correct one description that they put on you, which is, 'She CLUTCHED her Oscar.' It's NOT because you clawed your way to the top, [but because the trophy is so heavy, you might] fall to your knees. If you're in a long gown, you don't want to do that, so you have to quickly clutch it."---Leachman quoted in Premiere, April 1990.

Biography

With a career that spanned a staggering six decades on stage and screen, actress Cloris Leachman was one of primetime's funniest comediennes and a favorite player in the classic film satires of Mel Brooks. A former beauty pageant winner who began her career on the Broadway stage, Leachman's first high profile achievement was her Academy Award-winning performance in Peter Bogdanovich's stark drama "The Last Picture Show" (1971). From there, the over-40 actress' career kicked into high gear, with award-winning roles as the hilariously self-important Phyllis Lindstrom on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1970-77) and the subsequent spin-off, "Phyllis" (CBS, 1975-77). She forever held a place in film comedy history for her tightly wound, strangely accented characters in Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" (1974) and "History of the World, Part 1" (1981) - a strength she introduced to a new generation of fans in the role of grandma Ida on Fox's quirky "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06). The octogenarian became the reality competition's oldest contestant when she joined the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ) in 2008, then trotted on to the sitcom "Raising Hope" (Fox, 2010-14), as the semi-lucid grandmother "Maw Maw" Chance. With more than 40 years of film and television work under her belt, Leachman made it clear she was far from ready to retire, and had plenty more laughs to impart to appreciative fans of all ages.

Cloris Leachman was born on April 30, 1926, in Des Moines, IA where her father owned a lumber company. A self-admitted perfectionist as a child, Leachman made great strides towards her goal of acting with countless stage roles with the Des Moines Playhouse and appearances on local radio by the time she was a teenager. Her impressive achievements earned her a scholarship to the drama department at Northwestern University, where her classmates included future stars Charlton Heston, Patricia Neal and Charlotte Rae. While a student, Leachman entered the Miss Chicago beauty pageant and went on to place as a finalist in the 1946 Miss America competition. She bid college goodbye and used her $1,000 prize money to move to New York City, where she was invited by Elia Kazan to join the Actors Studio. Under their auspices, she made her TV debut as a recurring player on the drama series "Actors Studio" (ABC, 1948-49) and went on to appear in numerous live television dramas during the 'Golden Age of Television' in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Leachman also worked continuously on Broadway, playing Nellie Forbush in the original production of Rogers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific," sharing the stage with Katherine Hepburn in "As You Like It," and earning a Drama Desk nomination for "A Story for a Sunday Evening" in 1951.

While her acting career barreled ahead, Leachman married actor George Englund and together the young family headed to Hollywood. Englund launched a career as a film producer and director and Leachman made her film debut as the desperate woman found by the roadside in the opening sequence of Robert Aldrich's landmark film noir "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955). Despite her beauty queen past, the actress was not considered a conventional Tinseltown leading lady, and her sharp features, Midwestern accent and incisive acting skills marked her for offbeat character parts. During the late 1950s, Leachman had a regular TV role playing Timmy's wholesome, Midwestern mom on the series "Lassie" (CBS, 1954-1973) and was seen in countless guest spots on Westerns and live dramas while occasionally returning to Broadway. After nearly a decade of steady work on all the dramas and comedies of the day, including recurring characters on "Dr. Kildare" (NBC, 1961-66) and "77 Sunset Strip" (ABC, 1958-1964), Leachman made a memorable impression as a jittery lady of the evening in the Best Picture Oscar nominee "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969).

She followed up with big screen performances in a pair of scathing middle-America commentaries, "WUSA" (1970) and "The People Next Door" (1970), before a recurring role on the groundbreaking sitcom "Mary Tyler Moore" turned Leachman into a household name. The character-driven show, which starred Mary Tyler Moore as a thirty-something single professional and uniquely independent woman, featured Leachman as Mary's on-site landlady - a self-absorbed busybody who fancied herself an intellectual and progressive woman. As Phyllis Lindstrom, Leachman unleashed a sparkling, multiple Emmy-nominated comedic talent. The following year, she affirmed her versatility with a heartbreaking turn as a lonely, neglected housewife who begins an affair with a high school senior in Peter Bogdanovich's near-perfect adaptation of Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show." The flinchingly honest portrayal earned the 45-year-old actress an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to offer a string of award-winning performances on the small screen, beginning with "A Brand New Life" (ABC, 1973), where she played a middle-aged woman facing an unwanted pregnancy, and "The Migrants" (CBS, 1974), where she portrayed the matriarch of a family of fruit pickers.

Another Bogdanovich effort, "Daisy Miller" (1974) proved disappointing, but Leachman rebounded and became a member of Mel Brooks' unofficial stock company with "Young Frankenstein" (1975) and her classic supporting turn as housekeeper Frau Blucher, known for frightening all horses within earshot. She enlivened the early Jonathan Demme mob effort "Crazy Mama" (1975) and finally landed her own TV series, the spin-off "Phyllis" (CBS, 1975-77), which found her now-widowed character moving to San Francisco with her teenage daughter and re-entering the work force. The show was cancelled after two seasons (and one Lead Actress Golden Globe Award) and the same year that "Mary Tyler Moore" left the airwaves. But Leachman remained an in-demand comic player, reteaming with Brooks' to play skilled S&M dominatrix Nurse Diesel in the Hitchcock spoof "High Anxiety" (1977). She enjoyed character roles in madcap comedies like "The Muppet Movie" (1979) and "Herbie G s Bananas" (1980) and joined Brooks a third time to play an innkeeper in "History of the World, Part 1" (1981).

Following starring roles in several made-for-TV movies, Leachman returned to series television in "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-1988) where she took over the "mentor" role vacated by former classmate Charlotte Rae for the show's final two seasons. Beginning in 1989, Leachman began a decade of touring in a one-woman play written for her in which she portrayed American primitive painter Grandma Moses. On the big screen, she reprised her "Last Picture Show" role in the disappointing Bogdanovich sequel "Texasville" (1990) and seemed to be having fun stepping into Irene Ryan's boots to play Granny Clampett in the feature version of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1993). Not one to consider retirement, the 70-year-old actress spent nearly three years playing Parthy, the captain's wife, in a touring production of "Show Boat" before returning to series grind as a feisty, lusty oldster in the CBS summer sitcom "Thanks" (1999). The very busy Leachman provided a character voice for the acclaimed animated feature "The Iron Giant" and supported Meryl Streep in "Music of the Heart" (1999).

A whole new generation of sitcom viewers was introduced to Leachman when she was cast as Ellen DeGeneres' mother on the CBS sitcom "The Ellen Show" (2001-02) and began a recurring guest turn as the chain-smoking, tough-talking grandmother Ida on Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle." Her repeat performances throughout the series history earned Leachman annual Emmy nominations and delivered awards in 2002 and 2006, the same year she was also nominated for a supporting role in the HBO original drama movie, "Mrs. Harris" (HBO, 2005). Leachman continued to offer comedic big screen outings, taking on matronly roles in such films as "Alex & Emma" (2003) and "Bad Santa" (2003), where she played the half-dead grandmother of a portly misfit who rises only occasionally to make sandwiches. She received some of the best reviews of her career when she appeared as Tea Leoni's alcoholic mother in writer-director James L. Brooks' "Spanglish" (2004).

After a small role as a school nurse with X-ray vision in the family superhero comedy "Sky High" (2005), Leachman appeared in Peter Segal's weak remake of the classic 1974 Burt Reynolds film "The Longest Yard" (2005) and delivered a hilarious turn in the popular franchise "Scary Movie 4" (2006). In 2008, Leachman began a national tour of her one-woman autobiographical stage show "Cloris!" and appeared as part of the outstanding ensemble cast of the chick flick "The Women" (2008). She supported her latest efforts by joining the fall season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ) where at age 82, she became the oldest contestant in the show's history. She next landed a supporting role on the irreverent hit comedy "Raising Hope" (Fox, 2010-14), playing the Alzheimer's-afflicted great-grandmother of a 23-year-old new father (Lucas Neff) who is utterly clueless about raising his infant daughter. Leachman was one of several highlights on the show and earned herself an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

I Can Only Imagine (2018)
So B. It (2016)
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? (2016)
The Comedian (2016)
The Wedding Ringer (2015)
The Bronx Bull (2015)
This Is Happening (2015)
Adult World (2013)
The Croods (2013)
Voice
The Fields (2012)
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (2012)
Voice
Expecting Mary (2010)
New York, I Love You (2009)
American Cowslip (2009)
Love Takes Wing (2009)
Ponyo (2008)
The Women (2008)
Lake Placid 2 (2007)
Scary Movie 4 (2006)
Beerfest (2006)
Mrs. Harris (2006)
Buzz (2006)
The Longest Yard (2005)
Sky High (2005)
Spanglish (2004)
Evelyn
Alex & Emma (2003)
The Amati Girls (2001)
Dolly
Diagnosis Murder: Deadly Mirage (2001)
Manna From Heaven (2001)
Helen Madden
Hanging Up (2000)
Music of the Heart (1999)
The Iron Giant (1999)
Voice
Annabelle's Wish (1997)
Voice Of Aunt Agnes
Never Too Late (1997)
Olive
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
Voice
Now and Then (1995)
Between Love and Honor (1995)
A Troll in Central Park (1994)
Voice
The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)
Aunt Agatha; Aunt Sophia
Fade to Black (1993)
My Boyfriend's Back (1993)
Without a Kiss Goodbye (1993)
Miracle Child (1993)
Doc Betty
A Little Piece Of Heaven (1991)
In Broad Daylight (1991)
Love Hurts (1990)
Fine Things (1990)
Texasville (1990)
Prancer (1989)
Wedding Day Blues (1988)
The Facts of Life Down Under (1987)
Beverly Ann Stickle
Hansel and Gretel (1987)
The Witch
Walk Like A Man (1987)
Shadow Play (1986)
My Little Pony (1986)
Voice
Castle in the Sky (1986)
Voice
Love Is Never Silent (1985)
Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter (1984)
Dixie: Changing Habits (1983)
Sister Eugenio
The Demon Murder Case (1983)
Miss All-American Beauty (1982)
Agatha Blaine
History of the World Part I (1981)
Advice to the Lovelorn (1981)
Maggie Dale
The Acorn People (1981)
Nurse Betty Nelson
Foolin' Around (1980)
Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)
Mrs. R's Daughter (1979)
Ruth Randell
Yesterday (1979)
Mrs Kramer
The Muppet Movie (1979)
The North Avenue Irregulars (1979)
Scavenger Hunt (1979)
Willa (1979)
Darla Jean
S.O.S. Titanic (1979)
Long Journey Back (1978)
High Anxiety (1977)
The Mouse and His Child (1977)
Voice Of Euterpe
It Happened One Christmas (1977)
Crazy Mama (1976)
The Love Boat (Pilot Movie) (1976)
A Girl Named Sooner (1975)
Old Mam Hawes
Someone I Touched (1975)
Laura Hyatt
Death Scream (1975)
The New, Original Wonder Woman (1975)
Queen Hippolyte
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Hitchhike! (1974)
Claire Stevens
Death Sentence (1974)
Susan Davies
The Migrants (1974)
Thursday's Game (1974)
Dying Room Only (1973)
A Brand New Life (1973)
Victoria Douglas
Charley and the Angel (1973)
Happy Mother's Day... Love, George (1973)
Ronda
Haunts of the Very Rich (1972)
Crime Club (1972)
The Steagle (1971)
Rita Weiss
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Ruth Popper
Suddenly Single (1971)
Joanne Hackett
Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
Bernice
The People Next Door (1970)
Tina Hoffman
WUSA (1970)
Philomene
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Agnes
The Chapman Report (1962)
Miss Selby
The Rack (1956)
Caroline
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Christina [Bailey]

Music (Feature Film)

Dixie: Changing Habits (1983)
Song Performer
Someone I Touched (1975)
Song Performer

Cast (Special)

Brando (Part 1) (2007)
Herself
Brando (Part 2) (2007)
Herself
The 56th Annual Writers Guild Awards (2004)
TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV (2004)
Behind the Fame: Mary Tyler Moore/Bob Newhart (2002)
The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion (2002)
Paul Lynde: Off Center (2001)
Paul Newman - Bravo Profile (2001)
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1999)
Performer
The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998)
Performer
True Stories from Touched by an Angel (1998)
Intimate Portrait: Cybill Shepherd (1998)
Narrator
50th Emmy Awards (1998)
Presenter
Nobody's Girls: Five Women of the West (1994)
Miss America: Their Untold Stories (1993)
Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991)
Herself
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1986)
Performer
Breakfast With Les and Bess (1985)
Blind Alleys (1985)
The Screen Actors Guild 50th Anniversary Celebration (1984)
Donald Duck's 50th Birthday (1984)
The Woman Who Willed a Miracle (1983)
Twigs (1982)
Celia; Dorothy; Emily; Mother
The Way They Were (1981)
The Oldest Living Graduate (1980)
The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour (1977)
Telly... Who Loves Ya, Baby? (1976)
Monty Hall's Variety Hour (1976)
Ernie, Madge, and Artie (1974)
Madge
Pete 'n Tillie (1974)
Tillie Schaefer
Of Thee I Sing (1972)
Mary Turner
Of Men of Women (1972)
Widow (Story 1)
The Man in the Moon (1960)
The Life of Vernon Hathaway (1955)
Irma

Misc. Crew (Special)

Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991)
Other

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Spies (1993)
Mrs Beale
Backstairs at the White House (1979)

Life Events

1946

Won title of Miss Chicago; later was one of the finalists in Miss America Beauty Pageant

1949

Cast in regular role on CBS series "Hold It Please"

1949

Made TV debut with semi-regular role on "Actor's Studio" (ABC, CBS)

1950

Played secretary Effie Perrine on NBC detective show "Charlie Wild, Private Detective"

1952

Appeared regularly on NBC's "The Bob & Ray Show"

1955

Feature film acting debut in noir film "Kiss Me Deadly"

1957

Cast as Ruth Martin, Timmy's adoptive mom on fourth season of CBS series "Lassie"

1969

Landed brief role as a prostitute opposite Paul Newman and Robert Redford in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

1970

Once again cast opposite Newman in "WUSA"

1970

Played recurring role of Sandi Hollinger on ABC series "That Girl"

1970

Played recurring role of landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on CBS series "Mary Tyler Moore"

1971

Received acclaim as a high school gym teacher's wife who embarks on an affair with a teenager in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show"

1972

Co-starred with Carroll O'Connor in CBS adaptation of Gershwin musical "Of Thee I Sing"

1973

Gave Emmy-winning performance as a middle-aged woman who discovers she's pregnant in ABC movie "A Brand New Life"

1974

Re-teamed with Bogdanovich for period drama "Daisy Miller"

1974

Delivered strong dramatic turn in CBS telefilm "The Migrants"

1974

Offered brilliant comic turn as Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks' spoof "Young Frankenstein"

1975

Played title role on "Phyllis" (CBS), a spin-off of "Mary Tyler Moore"

1975

Starred in Jonathan Demme's low-budget gangster drama "Crazy Mama"

1977

Re-teamed with Mel Brooks for his spoof of Hitchcock films "High Anxiety"

1979

Appeared in "The Muppet Movie" as the secretary to a producing mogul (Orson Welles)

1979

Portrayed "the unsinkable" Molly Brown in ABC movie "S.O.S. Titanic"

1981

Again collaborated with Brooks for comedy "History of the World Part I"

1982

Played four roles (three sisters and their mother) in TV adaptation of "Twigs" (E!)

1982

Co-hosted short-lived CBS magazine program "The Book of Lists"

1985

Starred opposite Dick Van Dyke in PBS production "Breakfast with Les and Bess"

1986

Replaced Charlotte Rae's character as the den mother on NBC sitcom "The Facts of Life" for its final two seasons

1989

Played Ms. Frick on short-lived NBC sitcom "The Nutt House"; series created by Mel Brooks

1989

Played a nativist painter in an acclaimed touring stage production of "Grandma Moses"; appeared in play on-and-off for over a decade

1990

Reprised role of Ruth Popper in Peter Bogdanovich's sequel "Texasville"

1991

Played Emily Collins on short-lived NBC sitcom "Walter and Emily"

1993

Stepped into Irene Ryan's shoes to play Granny in feature film version of "The Beverly Hillbillies"

1996

Appeared as Parthy, the captain's wife in touring company of "Show Boat"

1996

Made two guest appearances as Aunt Mooster on CBS series "Promised Land"

1999

Played Meryl Streep's mother in Wes Craven's "Music of the Heart"

1999

Lent voice to animated feature "The Iron Giant"

2001

Landed recurring guest role as Grandma Ida on Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle"

2001

Returned to TV as Dot, the title character's eccentric mother on CBS sitcom "The Ellen Show"

2004

Portrayed the boozy, former jazz singer and grandmother Evelyn in James L. Brook's "Spanglish"

2004

Landed guest starring role on "Joan of Arcadia" (CBS)

2006

Played famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower's adoring sister in HBO movie "Mrs. Harris"

2008

Joined seventh season of ABC's reality competition series "Dancing With The Stars" along with professional partner Corky Ballas

2010

Cast as Maw Maw on Fox comedy series "Raising Hope"

2010

Featured in ensemble comedy "You Again"

2011

Inducted into Television Academy Hall of Fame

2013

Voiced the grandmother of a prehistoric family in DreamWorks animated comedy "The Croods"

2014

Played Mrs. Svorski on "Boy Meets World" revival series "Girl Meets World"

2014

Provided the voice of Gallaria on "Creative Galaxy" series

2017

Cast as Zorya Vechernyaya on Bryan Fuller's TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's critically acclaimed "American Gods" novel

Photo Collections

Herbie Goes Bananas - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Disney's Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8 (Later Disney sets came in 9 cards). As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Last Picture Show, The (1971) - Is It Something Bad? Texas high school senior Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) brings his football coach's lonely wife Ruth (Cloris Leachman), whom he's just met, home after a visit to the doctor for an unspecified ailment, in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, 1971.
North Avenue Irregulars, The (1979) - He's Not Taking Threats Rev. Hill (Edward Herrmann), baffled by rampant gambling at his church, takes to the air with an ad-libbed crusade, alarming his secretary (Susan Clark), also Patsy Kelly and Douglas Fowley, bookie Harry (Alan Hale Jr.), gangster Roca (Frank Campanella) and parishoners Barbara Harris and Cloris Leachman, in the Walt Disney crime-comedy The North Avenue Irregulars, 1979.
North Avenue Irregulars, The (1979) - God, Are You Home? Opening with Edward Herrmann in a relatively rare lead role, as Presbyterian Rev. Hill, with his kids (Bobby Rolofson, Melora Hardin) arriving at his new church, where the gang of ladies for whom the picture is named are having a crisis, Karen Valentine, Patsy Kelly, Cloris Leachman, Virginia Capers, Barbara Harris and Susan Clark at the fore, in Disney’s The North Avenue Irregulars, 1979.
High Anxiety (1977) - Dedicated To The Master Writer, director and star Mel Brooks establishes from the start that his film is meant as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, then gets busy on the airplane, then accosted after landing at LAX by a guy in a trenchcoat (Bob Ridgely), in High Anxiety, 1977.
Young Frankenstein (1974) - Frau Blucher Now at the family castle, accompanied by Inge (Teri Garr) and Igor (Marty Feldman), professor Frankenstein (co-screenwriter Gene Wilder) meets Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) and her running gag, in Mel Brooks' hit spoof Young Frankenstein, 1974.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Thumb's Not Good Enough? That's Cloris Leachman barefoot on the highway in a trenchcoat, Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer at the wheel of his Jaguar XK-20, Nat Cole's "Rather Have The Blues" on the radio, in the famous opening of Robert Aldrich's, Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.

Trailer

Promo

Family

Buck Leachman
Father
Had four.
Buck Leachman
Father
Lumber company owner.
Cloris Leachman
Mother
Adam Englund
Son
Had two; survived him.
Adam Englund
Son
Lawyer. Born c, 1954.
Brian Englund
Son
Survived him.
Brian Englund
Son
Actor. Born c. 1956; found dead in NYC hotel room at age 30 in 1986; cause of death remains undetermined.
George Englund
Son
Has a sister and a twin brother.
George Englund
Son
Production assistant. Born c. 1957.
Morgan Englund
Son
Born c. 1986.
Morgan Englund
Son
Actor, singer. Born c. 1964; appeared on CBS daytime drama "Guiding Light".
Dinah Englund
Daughter
Dancer.
Dinah Englund
Daughter
Singer, songwriter. Born c. 1967.

Companions

George H Englund
Husband
Born c. 1982.
George H Englund
Husband
Producer, director. Married on April 19, 1953; divorced in 1979.

Bibliography

Notes

"I played it with my own body, my skin, my face. I wanted that scorned look to come out through my skin rather than my mouth."---Cloris Leachman, on her performance in "The Last Picture Show"

"I would like to correct one description that they put on you, which is, 'She CLUTCHED her Oscar.' It's NOT because you clawed your way to the top, [but because the trophy is so heavy, you might] fall to your knees. If you're in a long gown, you don't want to do that, so you have to quickly clutch it."---Leachman quoted in Premiere, April 1990.

"I remember as a child never wanting to become an embittered old woman who had nothing but a career. Here I am, far from it, with all my children and grandchildren. The end is not in sight."---Cloris Leachman quoted in People, August 9, 1999.

"I've always, all my life since I was little, wanted to be perfect. Be a good girl and be perfect."---Leachman quoted in Los Angeles Magazine, November 2004.