Award-winning actress Cloris Leachman has died at 94

Cloris Leachman dies at 94: ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ actress won Oscar, Emmys

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


Cloris Leachman dies at 94: ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ actress won Oscar, Emmys

Prolific actress Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for her turn in the 1971 drama The Last Picture Show, and played Phyllis Lindstrom in classic sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on her own spinoff, has died at the age of 94.

She died Wednesday of natural causes in Encinitas, Calif., her representatives said.

“It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time,” her manager, Juliet Green, said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. “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. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic. She loved her children and her grandchildren ferociously. A lifelong vegetarian, she was a passionate advocate for animal rights. The family requests that any donations in her name be made to PETA or Last Chance for Animals.”

Indeed, Leachman excelled in both comedic and dramatic performances, racking up nearly 300 acting credits over seven decades. Along the way, she won eight individual Primetime Emmys for acting — more than anyone except Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has the same number — as well as that Academy Award.

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Cloris Leachman dies at 94: ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ actress won Oscar, Emmys
Raechal Shewfelt
Raechal Shewfelt·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Thu, January 28, 2021, 4:47 AM
Prolific actress Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for her turn in the 1971 drama The Last Picture Show, and played Phyllis Lindstrom in classic sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on her own spinoff, has died at the age of 94.

She died Wednesday of natural causes in Encinitas, Calif., her representatives said.

“It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time,” her manager, Juliet Green, said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. “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. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic. She loved her children and her grandchildren ferociously. A lifelong vegetarian, she was a passionate advocate for animal rights. The family requests that any donations in her name be made to PETA or Last Chance for Animals.”

Indeed, Leachman excelled in both comedic and dramatic performances, racking up nearly 300 acting credits over seven decades. Along the way, she won eight individual Primetime Emmys for acting — more than anyone except Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has the same number — as well as that Academy Award.

Mary Tyler Moore and Cloris Leachman star in the Oct. 3, 1970 episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” (Photo: CBS via Getty Images)
Mary Tyler Moore and Cloris Leachman star in the Oct. 3, 1970 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Photo: CBS via Getty Images)
Leachman seemed to have genuinely kept her love for acting, even in her later years.

“[The work] finds me and it is the most amazing thing,” she told her hometown newspaper, the Des Moines Register in August 2019. “So many times I have been like, ‘Oh God, what were they thinking? How did they connect me to this part?’ If you asked me, I wouldn’t have thought of myself for this role or this production, but they do and it comes to me and that means more to me than anything.”

Leachman had decided by the third grade, after her teacher asked her to read to the class, that she wanted to be in front of a crowd. By the time she was 11, she won a part on a radio show, and went on to study drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern University. During that time, she won the title of Miss Chicago and competed in the 1946 Miss America pageant. And while she didn’t win, she ended up moving to New York City to study acting under Elia Kazan.

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