Award winning actress Cloris Leachman died January 26, 2021 in her Encinitas, California home at the age of 94. The cause of death is being listed as natural causes.
The Emmy and Oscar award winning actress had a career that spanned over 70 years beginning in 1947 in an uncredited role as a patron in a dance club. Over the course of that career, she made over 400 appearances both as herself and as a credited actor.
More than just a screen actor, Leechman also appeared on the Broadway stage and performed on national touring productions including “Show Boat” and “Grandma Moses”.
Her Broadway credits are “Masquerade”, “A Touch of the Poet”, “King of Hearts”, “Sunday Breakfast”, “Dear Barbarians”, “Lo and Behold!”, “A Story for a Sunday Evening”, “As You Like It’, “South Pacific”, “Sundown Beach”, “John Loves Mary”, and “Happy Birthday”.
Along with her Theater World Award, Leechman has won a total of eight Emmy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, and an Academy Award as a best supporting actress in “The Last Picture Show”.
Her 2008 appearance on the competition reality series “Dancing with the Stars” which made her the oldest cast member ever to appear on the show.
With hundreds of productions to her credit, Leechman has been on numerous variety shows, documentaries, talk shows, award shows, and game shows. She has even been a guest judge on an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and was a guest on “The Muppet Show”.
After making her screen debut in an uncredited role in 1947, Leechman made her credited screen debut the following year in the “Ford Theatre Hour”. Her nearly 300 film and television roles include “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Climax!”, “Lassie”, “Gunsmoke”, “Dr. Kildare”, “Young Frankenstein”, 48 episodes of her own show “Phyllis”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “High Anxiety”, “History of the World: Part 1”, “The Love Boat”, “The Facts of Life”, “The Ellen Show”, “The Twilight Zone” – original and remake, “Malcolm in the Middle”, “Raising Hope”, “Mad About You”, and the voice of Gran in “The Croods: A New Age”. The production “High Holiday” has been completed; while “Not to Forget” is currently in post-production.
She was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa where the family lived in a house with no running water. She began taking piano lessons when she was only five years old and used a cardboard drawing of the keys as her practice instrument. She first came to the attention of television fans in 1946 as Miss Chicago in the “Miss America” pageant.
After the “Miss America” pageant, she went to New York City and began her acting career on both the screen and stage.
Predeceased by her son Bryan, she is survived by her children Dinah, Adam, George, and Morgan.
feature photo credit: By Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6993667