Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for her work in The Last Picture Show, and several Emmys for playing Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died.
Leachman was known for her hilarious turns in the Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder classic Young Frankenstein (1974) and on the TV shows Malcolm in the Middle and Raising Hope. She died of natural causes Wednesday in Encinitas, California,.
Leachman is maybe best known for playing Mary Richards’ delusional, self-centered landlady Phyllis on the legendary CBS sitcom and then on her own spinoff show Phyllis. She received Emmy nominations each year from ’72 through ’76, winning in ’74 and ’75. She won a record total of 9 in her lifetime.
Phyllis has been described as “neurotic,” but Leachman once said.
“I decided to be perfect. And there’s nothing more boring than somebody that’s perfect. She was insufferable.”
Leachman got more laughs — and another Emmy nom, the 22nd of her career — for guest-starring as the not-always-lucid grandmother Maw Maw on Fox’s sitcom Raising Hope.
Leachman told the Huffington Post in 2012
“I love it very much and it’s very far out.
I’m either sitting on the toilet saying, ‘It takes as long as it takes’ when people try to get me out of the bathroom. Or I have no bra on at all and I’m going out the front door and down the street.”
At age 82, the amazing Cloris competed on Dancing With the Stars. She appeared on television in every decade from the 40s to the 2010s.
Early in her career, Leachman starred in several Broadway productions, including Rodgers & Hammerstein‘s South Pacific and, opposite Katharine Hepburn, in As You Like It.
Leachman also turned up in such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and Lovers and Other Strangers (1970). Later, she starred as a wild-eyed criminal in Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama (1975) and as Granny in the movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies (1993).
She was a self-proclaimed atheist.
“For many, many years, I thought that God would get even with me or punish me because I didn’t believe in him, or her, or them.
And nothing ever happened except for good things. So I don’t believe at all in God, and I’m very relieved that I don’t.
“Extraordinary miracles, billions and trillions of them, happen all the time, but not because there’s a God.”
Chris Leachman was never funnier than as Frau Blücher (cue horse whinnie!) in Mel Brook’s classic Young Frankenstein.