Actor Cloris Leachman dies
Award-winner in movies and TV was exceptionally versatile
LOS ANGELES — Cloris Leachman, an Oscar-winner for her portrayal of a lonely housewife in “The Last Picture Show” and a comedic delight as the fearsome Frau Blücher in “Young Frankenstein” and self-absorbed neighbor Phyllis on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” has died. She was 94.
Leachman died in her sleep of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, California, publicist Monique Moss said Wednesday. Her daughter Dinah Englund was at her side, Moss said.
A character actor of extraordinary range, Leachman defied typecasting. In her early television career, she appeared as Timmy’s mother on the
“Lassie” series. She played a frontier prostitute in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a crime spree family member in “Crazy Mama,” and Blücher in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” in which the very mention of her name drew equine commentary.
“Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher,” Brooks tweeted, calling Leachman “insanely talented” and irreplaceable.
In 1989, Leachman toured in “Grandma Moses,” a play in which she aged from 45 to 101. For three years in the 1990s she appeared in major cities as the captain’s wife in the revival of “Show Boat.” In the 1993 movie version of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” she assumed the Irene Ryan role as Granny Clampett.