She was one of the greatest comedians of all time, recognized for her television work with nine Emmy Awards, an unbeatable number to date, but she won her only Oscar for the heartbreaking portrait of a woman without a future. So it will be remembered Cloris Leachman, the extraordinary actress who died at 94 in Encinitas, California. Leachman died Tuesday, but the news broke in the last hours.
Leachman owes the best moment of his entire long (and immense) professional career to Phyllis, the character he played in El show de Mary Tyler Moore, one of the greatest sitcoms in the history of American TV. “Phyllis was not a neurotic. It had to be perfect. There is nothing more boring and insufferable than a perfect woman ”, he acknowledged more than once about this character, who so deeply affected that program and its viewers that he later managed to become the hub of his own sitcom. Phyllis earned Leachman five consecutive Emmy nominations and two wins. Later he added new statuettes to his successful personal record of recognitions with the string of Emmy won thanks to another of his great characters, the series’ grandmother Ida Malcolm in the Middle. The last award was taken by the series Raising Hope.
In addition to this colossal success, Leachman’s crop of awards found a new peak at the Oscar for best supporting actress, which she obtained in 1971 thanks to another extraordinary character, that of Ruth Popper, the frustrated wife who lives an anguished romance. impossible with a student in The last movie, Peter Bogdanovich’s masterpiece. The director himself anticipated that he was going to win the award after shooting a very audacious scene for the time in which she is encouraged to a complete nude.
Cloris Leachman poses with her Emmy Award for A Brand New Life in Los Angeles on May 21, 1975 (AP /)
Born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa, she grew up in a rural area and felt with her family the impact of poverty during the Great Depression. “My mother imaginatively replaced the lack of money. She bought very cheap fabrics and managed to make curtains, tablecloths and dresses with it for my two sisters and for me ”, she acknowledged years later.
She managed to reach the final of the Miss America pageant in 1946 and thanks to that recognition and her studies in dramatic arts she was able to join the Actors Studio, where she studied under Elia Kazan. Installed in New York, she participated with more and more prominence in Broadway plays and some of the most successful television dramas of the 50s and 60s. Her presence became permanent in popular westerns on the small screen (The law of the revolver, Rawhide, Laramie) and many remember her as a prostitute in Butch Cassidy, one of his first forays into film.
His hallmark, also in comedy
After the Oscar-winning enshrinement in The Last Picture, Leachman found another role that was almost on the same level, but on the comedy side: Frau Blücher, the formidable housekeeper that Mel Brooks created for her in Young frankenstein. These two characters, expressions of Leachman’s remarkable talent for both comedy and drama, capped off an exemplary film career that had begun with her role as Fatal Woman in The deadly kiss, by Robert Aldrich, in 1955.
The heart wears a mask, Lovers are strange beings, Dillinger, Journey into delirium were some of the opening titles of Leachman’s career on the big screen. He returned to work with Bogdanovich in Daisy Miller Y Texasville (sequel to The last movie, in which she reprized her unforgettable role as Ruth Popper) and with Mel Brooks in The Anguishes of Dr. Mel Brooks Y The crazy history of the world.
Tireless despite the passage of time, he did everything especially on TV, from special or permanent appearances in series (Touched by an Angel, Two and a Half Men among many others) to voices in animated programs (Beavis and Butthead, Phineas y Ferb). And it was added to more movies: Don’t leave us hanging, Friends forever, Espanglish, All about women, The perfect plan and more recently If only I could imagine. There was hardly a movie with a grandmother as a key character that did not take her into account. She was also a keen vegetarian and a fervent animal rights activist.
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