Hollywood News

Cloris Leachman, American Actor and Comedian, Dies at 94

Cloris Leachman, the American actor and comedian known for her association with filmmaker Mel Brooks, died in her sleep on Wednesday at her home in California.


She was 94.

During her seven decade-long career, Leachman won eight Primetime Emmy Awards out of 22 nominations, making her the most nominated actor till date. The actor won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for the best supporting role for her performance of a schoolteacher’s wife in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. Her latest nomination, according to The Wrap, was in 2011 for her role of Barbara June “Maw Maw” in American sit-com Raising Hope, which aired on Fox from 2010 to 2014. That same year she was ranked No. 23 on the TV Guide Network special Funniest Women on TV.

Greg Garcia, the creator of Raising Hope, spoke to Deadline about how Leachman made Maw Maw’s character iconic, despite her role not having any dialogues. He said that he had casually suggested the actor’s name, submitting the script through her agent.

“The next thing I know, she was calling me on the phone to tell me she was in. I couldn’t believe it. I promised to write some actual dialogue for the character, but she told me not to touch a thing. She thought it was funny the way it was,” he wrote.

Leachman was also renowned for playing Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and the latter’s History of the World, Part 1, and his Alfred Hitchcock parody High Anxiety.

Born in 1926, Leachman first started performing in plays. Later, she enrolled herself at the Northwestern University. In 1946, she participated in the Miss America pageant as Miss Illinois, where she finished among the top 16 and bagged a scholarship, which enabled her to study acting under Elia Kazan at the Actors’ Studio in New York City.

After featuring in several plays, including a production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, co-starring with Katharine Hepburn, Leachman made her big-screen debut with the 1947 film Carnegie Hall as an extra. Her first independent role came with Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly.

She has worked on films like Yesterday (1981), Now and Then (1995), New York, I Love You (2008), and Spanglish (2004), to name a few. She also provided the voice-over for the character of Gran in the 2013 animated comedy film The Croods.


While continuing to work on films, she simultaneously worked on television shows. Her longest running shows, apart from Raising Hope, include The Brand New Life, The Ellen Show, Lassie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (which later led to her spin-off Phyllis), and Malcolm in the Middle that went on for seven seasons across six years. In 2008, she participated in the seventh season of Dancing with the Stars, a dance reality show, at the age of 81.

Leachman has also provided voice overs for animated films and shows, including Schoolhouse Rock!, My Little Pony: The Movie, A Troll in Central Park, The Iron Giant, Gen, and Disney’s English dubbed version of the Japanese animated fantasy adventure film Castle in the Sky.

In 2009, she wrote and published an autobiography titled Cloris. She was an active advocate of animal-rights and participated in an advertisement campaign for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, that fights against the exploitation of animals in various industries.

Actors paid their tributes to the late actor on social media.

Leachman married filmmaker George Englund in 1953 and the couple had five children. The couple divorced in 1979. The actor is survived by four children and a granddaughter, Anabel Englund.