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Cloris Leachman dies at 94: Oscar-winner

“Cloris Leachman, an Oscar-winner in “The Last Picture Show” for her portrayal of a lonely housewife and a comedic delight as the fearful Frau Blücher died in “Young Frankenstein” and self-absorbed neighbour Phyllis in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was about 94. At her home in Encinitas, Californi

Cloris Leachman

“Cloris Leachman, an Oscar-winner in “The Last Picture Show” for her portrayal of a lonely housewife and a comedic delight as the fearful Frau Blücher died in “Young Frankenstein” and self-absorbed neighbour Phyllis in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was about 94.

At her home in Encinitas, California, Leachman died in her sleep of natural causes, publicist Monique Moss said Wednesday. Dinah Englund, her daughter, was by her side, Moss said.

Leachman, a character actor with exceptional range, defied typecasting. She starred as Timmy’s mother in the “Lassie” series during her early television career. In “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” she played a frontier slut, a family member of the crime spree in “Crazy Mama,” and Blücher in “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks, in which the mere mention of her name attracted equine commentary.

“I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher every time I hear a whinny horse,” Brooks tweeted, labelling Leachman “insanely talented” and “irreplaceable.”

On social media, salutes from other admiring peers poured in. “Steve Martin said that Leachman “brought the complexities of satire to the big and small screen.” “Nothing I could say can top the enormity of my passion for you,” Ed Asner posted on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Rosie O’Donnell said, “Applause at every entry and departure.

“No one like Cloris was there. She has the power to break your heart with a single glance or make you laugh until the tears streamed down your cheeks,’ said Juliet Green, her longtime boss, in a statement.

Cloris Leachman

In 1989, in “Grandma Moses,” a play in which she was aged 45 to 101, Leachman toured. She starred in big cities for three years in the 1990s as the captain’s wife in the remake of “Show Boat.” She played the Irene Ryan role of Granny Clampett in the 1993 film version of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

She has had an occasional part in “Malcolm in the Middle” as Ida, winning Emmys for that programme in 2002 and 2006. For eight years, her Emmy trail was tied to her by Julia Louis Dreyfus and was among the top Emmy winners for the actors, including two trophies for Moore’s sitcom.

Leachman joined the ranks of the participants in 2008 in Dancing With the Stars, which did not last much, but satisfied the audiences with their dazzling dance outfits, stole on the laps of judges and cussed on live shows.

In a Miss America Pageant, she began as Miss Chicago and accept unglamorous screen roles voluntarily.

She told an interviewer in 1973. “I basically don’t care how I look, hideous and perfect. “The elegance, I don’t think. In one day, either one of us is nasty or lovely. In “The wizard of Oz,” I’m heartbroken. So I’d like to be still the good witch. Phyllis takes the two together.

“In life, I’m kind of like that. I’m magic, and in magic I believe. There should be a point in life where you should not be sure of it. It’s not yet I have surpassed it.”

During the 1950s Leachman worked in live television drama showcasing his versatility, even in the positions of casting criteria.

She remembered that she was one week away as a Chinese lady, the next as a blonde cockney and weeks later a dark-haired girl. She made her debut film in a bubbling Mickey Spillane sequence in 1955, “Kiss Me Deadly,” “I’ve been the naked blonde Mike Hammer took on this obscure road.”

She supported the short-martial Rod Serling play, “The Rack,” and “Lassie” for a year. She managed to support Broadway and film roles and earned her win in “The Last Picture Show” with Peter Bogdanovish on the basis of the novel Larry McMurtry.

When the Oscar was won in 1971, Leachman gave a rousing poem, in which she praised her teachers for piano and dance, adding, “This is for the bills paid by Buck Leachman.” Her father operated a lumber mill.

She continued to be cast in character roles amid her photogenic appearance. Phyllis Lindstrom performed his most indelible part in the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Sometimes Phyllis visited the apartment of Mary, moaning about her husband, Lars, and her adversary Rhoda Morgenstern, and particularly her rival (Valerie Harper). In a spin-off, Leachman acted in his own “Phyllis,” running at CBS from 1975 to 1977, Phyllis was quite surprising.

Cloris Leachman was born in 1926, in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa. The big family had no drinking water in an abandoned wooden home, but the mother had bright plans for her children. At five years of age, Cloris took piano lessons and the family was unable to buy a piano, so she played the keys on a carton.

“I will be a concert pianist,” the girl proclaimed and her mom urged her to make reservations at churches and municipal clubs. For the concert in the Drake University, she arranged Cloris to travel on a coal truck to Des Moines. She performed and appeared at a nearby theatre in other plays. She received a bursary for drama research at Northwestern University after high school.

Of course, Leachman was a bad student and only lived a year. She tried out and was selected as a lark in the Chicago region for a beauty competition from Miss Chicago. In 1946, she competed as a finalist in Atlantic City in the Miss America pageant. Your convenience prize: a $1,000 bursary for creativity.

She went straight to New York with new passion, where she worked as a filmmaker in addition to Nina Foch in hit-playing “John Loves Mary.”

There came additional understudy work, and she signed up for her craft at the Actors’ Studio. She said later, “Finally, I stopped smoking.” “That blue haze I couldn’t stand.”

Leachman married the film director and producer George Englund in 1953 and had five children: Adam, Bryan, George, Morgan, and Dinah. In 1979, the pair separated. At the age of 30 in 1986, Son Bryan Englund was found dead.