American TV legend, Emmy and Oscar awards winner Cloris Leachman passes away at 94

Reports quoted Leachman's publicist as saying that the actor had died due to natural causes at her residence in Encinitas, California

author_img Praveena Parthiban Published :  28th January 2021 12:51 PM   |   Published :   |  28th January 2021 12:51 PM

Cloris Leachman

American actor and comedy legend Cloris Leachman (94), who won eight Emmy awards for her work in 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and other television programs, a Golden Globe award for Phyllis, and an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actress in The Last Picture Show released in 1971, passed away on Wednesday, according to media sources.

Reports quoted Leachman's publicist as saying that the actor had died due to natural causes at her residence in Encinitas, California. "It’s been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time," her manager Juliet Green 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. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic," Green said.

Leachman was on April 30, 1926, at Des Moines, Iowa. She was the first of three daughters born to late Cloris Wallace and Berkeley Leachman, who was the owner of a lumber company called Buck.

Leachman grew to be an entertainer right from a young age, with her starting to learn the piano at 7 years and performing at a community theatre in Des Moines. She also learned live radio acting during a summer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Cloris Leachman also earned the title of 'Miss Chicago' in 1946, which opened up an opportunity for her to participate in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She was voted third runner-up in the pageant.

After this, she travelled to New York for a three-day visit, where she took up a role as an extra in the film Carnegie Hall, which was released in 1947.

Following her graduation from Northwestern University in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in speech, Leachman came back to New York to pursue her career. She entered the drama industry through the Actors Studio, where she studied with Julie Harris and Marlon Brando.

She participated in numerous plays and filled in for Mary Martin as the lead in "South Pacific" on Broadway for four weeks. She also appeared with Katharine Hepburn in "As You Like It".

Leachman film debut was through the movie Kiss Me Deadly, which hit the theatres in 1955. The actor continued to participate in TV shows while acting in movies. Some of these shows included twelve episodes of 'Lassie', where she played the role of the adoptive mother, Ruth Martin.

She won the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actress in the film The Last Picture Show, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, where she played the role of a Texas high school football coach's wife who had an affair with one of the players in the team.

Some of her best-known film roles were in Young Frankenstein (1974) as Frau Blucher, the creepy Transylvanian housekeeper; High Anxiety (1977) as the sadistic Nurse Diesel; and History of the World: Part I (1981), as Madame Defarge, a lead conspirator who plans to overthrow King Louis XVI.

According to media sources, Leachman had said back in 2011 that she was finding it difficult to land good roles in movies, citing what the film industry calls the 'Oscar curse', after winning the Academy award.

However, she continued with her television shows even after her 90s.

With more than 250 live television shows and movies under her belt, Leachman's career spanned across numerous live network dramas of the 1940s right up to 'Dancing With the Stars' in 2008 and beyond.