Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cloris Leachman who played Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Academy award winning actress Cloris Leachman was born in 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa.  She is well know for her role as Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary Richard's landlady in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".  She has won eight Emmy awards for her work on television. Cloris is also well know for her role as Frau Blücher (sound of horses neighing) in the cult classic "Young Frankenstein" (that's Fronkensteen) by Mel Brooks.  

Cloris Leachman during the early years of her career

Cloris began her career on stage and appeared in "South Pacific" and "As You Like It".  In 1947 she got her first uncredited film role in "Carnegie Hall" which starred Marsha Hunt, William Prince and Frank McHugh.  A year later she made her first TV appearance in the show "The Ford Theatre Hour", then again in 1949 on "NBC Presents" and "Actor's Studio".  She continued to appear in "theater tv" shows through the 1950's.

In 1955 Cloris got her first credited film role in "Kiss Me Deadly" with Ralph Meeker, Maxine Cooper, and Jack Elam.  The following year she starred in "The Rack" with Paul Newman, Wendell Corey, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Lee Marvin, and James Best.

From 1957 to 1958 Leachman appeared in 28 episodes of "Lassie" co-starring Jon Provost and June Lockhart.  In the 1960's Cloris appeared most in TV shows such as "Rawhide", "Outlaws", "Hawaiian Eye", "Gunsmoke", "Twilight Zone", "Cain's Hundred", "The Untouchables", "Route 66", "Laramie", "Wagon Train", and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".

Cloris Leachman standing on the right with the cast of "Lassie"

In 1962, Leachman starred in the film "The Chapman Report" with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Shelley Winters and Jane Fonda.  She continued to appear in TV shows like "Saints and Sinners", "77 Sunset Strip", "The Defenders", "Dr. Kildare", "Perry Mason", "The Big Valley", "Adam-12", "Mannix", "The Virginian", and "Ironside".

Cloris Leachman

In 1969, Cloris starred in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, and Strother Martin.  The following year in 1970, she also starred in the films "Lovers and Other Strangers" with Bea Arthur, Bonnie Bedelia, Michael Brandon, and Diane Keaton.  Other films that year included "WUSA" with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey, and Wayne Rogers.  Then again the same year she starred in "The People Next Door" with Julie Harris, Deborah Winters, Eli Wallach, Hal Holbrook, and Rue McClanahan.

It was also in 1970 that Leachman began playing the role of Mary Richard's landlady Phyllis Lindstrom in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".  She appeared in 34 episodes through 1977 when the show ended.  She co-starred with Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, Georgia Engel, Ted Baxter, Gavin MacLeod, Betty White, and Ed Asner.  She also appeared in the spin-off show "Rhoda" which starred Valerie Harper in the episode when Rhoda was married.  "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" also spawned a spin-off show for Leachman which was called "Phyllis" and co-starred Henry Jones, Jane Rose, Judith Lowry, Liz Torres, and others.  The show ran for three years, but was short lived in part due to the deaths of cast members Judith Lowry, Barbara Colby, and Burt Mustin.

Cloris Leachman (Phillyis Lindstrom) and Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Richards) in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
Cast of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" Front: Gavin MacCleod (Murray Slaughter), Mary Tyler Moore (Mary Richards), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis Lindstrom)  Back: Valerie Harper (Rhoda Morgenstern), Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Ted Knight (Ted Baxter)

During her run on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Phyllis", Cloris was busy doing other things as well.  She starred in "The Steagle" with Richard Benjamin, Chill Wills, and Jean Allison. It was during this time in 1971 that she starred in "The Last Picture Show" for which she won an Academy Award as best supporting actress.

Cloris Leachman, Mary Tyler Moore, and Valerie Harper of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"

In 1972 Cloris starred in the TV movie "Of Thee I Sing" with Carroll O'Connor, Jack Gilford, Michele Lee, and Jim Backus.  The following year Leachman starred in "Charley and the Angel" with Fred MacMurry, Harry Morgan, Kurt Russell, Kathleen Cody, and Vincen Van Patten. That same year she starred in "Dillinger" with Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss, and Steve Kanaly.

Leachman appeared many TV movies during the 1970s including "Dying Room Only", "Pete 'n' Tillie", "The Migrants" co-starring Ron Howard, Sissy Spacek, Cindy Williams, and Ed Lauter.  She also starred in "Hitchhike!" and "Thursday's Game" co-starring  Gene Wilder, Bob Newhart, Ellen Burstyn, Nancy Walker, Valerie Harper, and Rob Reiner.

Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher in "Young Frankenstein"

In 1974 Leachman starred in "Young Frankenstein" (that's Fronkensteen),  with Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, and Kenneth Mars.  Cloris was the housekeeper Frau Blücher who everytime someone would say her name, the horses in the stable would neigh wildly.  It has become a much loved cult classic over the years.  The following year, Leachman starred in "Crazy Mama" in 1975 with Stuart Whitman, Ann Sothern, Jim Backus, Linda Purl, and Donny Most of "Happy Days" fame. 

Marty Feldman (Igor), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blücher), Gene Hackman (Dr. Frankenstein), Teri Garr (Inga) in "Young Frankenstein"

After "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Phyllis" years, the 1977 Christmas season brought a role in "It Happened One Christmas" co-starring Marlo Thomas, Orson Welles and Wayne Rogers.  That same year she also starred in another Mel Brooks movie "High Anxiety" starring Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, and Dick Van Patten.

Cloris Leachman in 1977

She starred in movies such as "The North Avenue Irregulars" (1979), "The Muppet Movie", "Scavenger Hunt", "Herbie Goes Bananas", "Foolin' Around", and "Yesterday",
"The Oldest Living Graduate" co-starring Henry Fonda, George Grizzard, Timothy Hutton, Cloris Leachman, John Lithgow, Penelope Milford, David Ogden Stiers, and Harry Dean Stanton (1980)

In 1981 Cloris starred in another Mel Brooks hit "History of the World: Part 1" starring Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, and Sid Caesar.  That same year she starred in the TV movie "Advice to the Lovelorn" with Kelly Bishop, Walter Brooke, Melissa Sue Anderson , Tina Louise, and Desi Arnaz Jr.

Cloris Leachman in the 1980s

In 1984-85 Cloris appeared in several episodes of "The Love Boat" which was captained by Gavin MacLeod, her former co-star of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".  "The Love Boat" also
starred  Lauren Tewes, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Jill Whelan, and Ted LangeThe following year she was cast as Beverly Ann Stickle in the TV show "Facts of Life" co-starring Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Nancy McKeon, and Charlotte Rae.  The went on the air in 1979, however Lechman did not appear until the last few years of the show.  During her run on these two shows, Cloris also appeared in many films and TV movies such as "Deadly Intentions" (1985), "Shadow Play" (1986), "My Little Pony: The Movie" (voice 1986),  "Castle in the Sky" (voice), "The Facts of Life Down Under" (1987), "Walk Like a Man" with Christopher Lloyd and Howie Mandel (1987), "Hansel and Gretel", and "The Little Troll Prince".  She also appeared in the show "Our House" starring Wilford Brimley, Deidre Hall and Shannen Doherty.

In 1988 Leachman starred in "Going to the Chapel" with Mark Linn-Baker, Wendy Kilbourne, Michele Greene, Eileen Brennan, John Ratzenberger, Barbara Billingsley, Dick Van Patten, and Joel Brooks.  The following year she starred in the holiday film "Prancer" with Sam Elliott, Abe Vigoda, Rutanya Alda, Michael Constantine, Rebecca Harrell, and Ariana Richards of Jurrasic Park fame.  That same year she starred in the TV show "The Nutt House" which co-starred Harvey Korman, Brian McNamara, and Molly Hagan.  The show only lasted one season.

Leachman starred in a string of movies in the early '90s such as "Texasville", "Fine Things", "Love Hurts", "In Broad Daylight", "The Giant of Thunder Mountain" with Richard Kiel and Jack Elam.  She also played the role of Emily Collins in the TV show "Walter & Emily" from 1991 to 1992 which co-starred Brian Keith and Christopher McDonald.

Cloris Leachman in the early 1990s

For the remainder of the 1990s, Cloris starred mostly in films and TV movies such as "Fade to Black" co-starring Heather Locklear and Timothy Busfield (1993), "Without a Kiss Goodbye" with Lisa Hartman, Christopher Meloni, and David Ogden Stiers (1993), "The Beverly Hillbillies" with Diedrich Bader, Erika Eleniak and Jim Varney (1993), "Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" with Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen (1993), "A Troll in Central Park" (1994), and "Now and Then" with Christina Ricci, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Melanie Griffith, Thora Birch, and Bonnie Hunt (1995).  She also starred in "Never Too Late" (1997), "Annabelle's Wish" (voice, 1997), "The Iron Giant" (voice, 1999), and "Music of the Heart" (1999).

Cloris started off the new millennium by starring in "Hanging Up" co-starring Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, Walter Matthau, and Adam Arkin.  This was followed by "The Amati Girls".  From 2001 to 2002 Leachman starred as Dot Richmond in "The Ellen Show" co-starring Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Emily Rutherfurd, and Martin Mull.  In 2002 she starred in "Manna from Heaven" followed by "Crazy Love" in 2003 which co-starred Valerie Bertinelli and Peter MacNicol.  That same year she starred in "Alex & Emma" with Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Rob Reiner, Rip Taylor, and Sophie Marceau

Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman, and Betty White

In 2004 she starred in "Spanglish" with Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, and Paz Vega.  The following year in 2005 it was a remake of "The Longest Yard" co-starring Adam Sandler, Chirs Rock, Burt Reynolds, Michael Irvin, and Nelly.  The same year she starred in "Sky High" with Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, and Kelly Vitz.  Other film credits that year included "Mrs. Harris" and "The Californians".

From 2001 to 2006 Leachman appeared in 11 episodes of "Malcolm in the Middle" co-starring Frankie Muniz, Bryan Cranston, Justin Berfield, and Jane Kaczmarek.  She won an Emmy award for her portrayal as Malcom's sinister Grandma Ida.  This was a milestone as this made her eighth Emmy allowing her to break Mary Tyler Moore's long standing record of seven.

Cloris Leachman as Grandma Ida in "Malcom in the Middle"
Cloris Leachman wins an Emmy for her role as Grandma Ida in "Malcom in the Middle"
Cloris Leachman participates in "Dancing with the Stars"
Cloris Leachman 2008
Cloris Leachman 2009

As well as several TV appearances, Cloris finished out the decade with film roles in "Lake Placid 2" with John Schneider and  Sarah Lafleur (2007), "The Women" (2008), "New York, I Love You" (2009), "American Cowslip" co-starring Diane Ladd, Rip Torn, Peter Falk, Bruce Dern, and Priscilla Barnes (2009), "Expecting Mary" with Elliott Gould, Linda Gray, Lainie Kazan, and Cybill Shepherd (2010), and "You Again" with Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White, and Patrick Duffy (2010).  Also in 2010 Leachman starred in 9 episodes of the TV show "Raising Hope".

Cloris Leachman now

We will be seeing much more of Cloris Leachman as she has several works in production such as "The Fields", "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde", and "Timberwolf".

Cloris Leachman today

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