Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for her work in The Last Picture Show, then collected two of her record nine Emmys for playing the quirky Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died from natural causes. She was 94.
Leachman is perhaps best known for playing Mary Richards’ delusional, self-centered landlady Phyllis on the CBS sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and then on her own spinoff show, Phyllis, in which her character, now a widowed single mother, moved from Minneapolis to San Francisco. The actress received Emmy nominations each year from 1972 through 1976, winning in ’74 and ’75.
For playing Grandma Ida on Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle, Leachman picked up six straight outstanding guest actress comedy noms from 2001 through ’06, winning twice. The last one gave her her ninth Emmy trophy, the most ever awarded to any actor (her haul also includes one Daytime Emmy win).
Leachman was superb as the scary Frau Blucher in Mel Brookes- Gene Wilder classic film ,Young Frankenstein; she also appeared for Brooks as the evil Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety (1977) and as tavern owner Madame Defarge in History of the World: Part I (1987).
Mel Brooks tweeted: Such sad news—Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed.
Juliet Green, Leachman’s manager, said “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,” she wrote in a statement. “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.”