Oscar and Emmy-winning actress Cloris Leachman has died. She was 94 years old.
Born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa, she would later attend Illinois State University and Northwestern University where she majored in drama. She would spend some time acting in the Des Moines Playhouse before moving to New York. She worked steadily as an actress, garnering a reputation for her brilliant comedic timing while appearing in a number of television shows before making her big screen debut in 1955 in the noir-classic Kiss Me Deadly.
Even after that debut, Leachman worked almost entirely in television throughout the 50s and 60s during which time she appeared on the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” about a young boy with monstrous powers whose family lived in constant fear. She would go on to appear in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcok Presents and Kraft Mystery Theater.
It was in 1971 that Leachman would play the role that would earn her Academy Award as Ruth Popper in The Last Picture Show. Only a couple of years later, she would take on the role of Phyllis Lindstrom in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a role that would earn her multiple Emmy nods and her own spin-off series.
It was in 1974, however, that Leachman would step into what would become her most iconic roles as the stiff-backed, cigar-smoking, violin-playing Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein. At only 5’4″, not counting that high hair, she commanded every scene she was in, and she would work with the director later on films like High Anxiety and History of the World Part I.
She was an actress who continued to work to the very end. At the time of her passing, she had 287 acting credits on IMDb including two films that have not yet been released.
It’s hard to imagine a world without that wry smile and razor-sharp wit.
iHorror sends our condolences to the family and friends of Cloris Leachman. Gone, but never forgotten. Take a look at some of her work from Young Frankenstein below.