April 30, 1926 – January 27, 2021
The much-beloved American actress and comedian, Cloris Leachman, has passed away at the age of 94. Leachman was a critically acclaimed performer whose career spanned seven decades. During her career, she was nominated for a record 22 Emmys – the most nominations to date. Of those nominations, she won eight times tying her with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the most wins all time. Leachman appeared in both television and film productions during her celebrated career.
Leachman grew up in Des Moines, Iowa with two younger sisters. As a teenager, she appeared in several plays produced by area youth on the weekends at Drake University. Following high school, she went on to attend Northwestern University’s School of Education. In 1946, she won the Miss Illinois pageant and went on to compete in the Miss America pageant later that year where she finished in the top 16.
Following Miss America, Leachman studied acting at the Actors Studio in New York City. After spending some time appearing in plays around New York, Leachman made the jump to television programs. During the 1950s, she had appearances on “Suspense”, “Studio One” and briefly as the mother of Lassie’s owner, Timmy, on “Lassie”.
Her first big film role came in 1955 when she was cast in the film noir, “Kiss Me Deadly”. After success in the film, Leachman went on to star in several other films opposite stars like Paul Newman and Lee Marvin.
Throughout much of her career, she continued to appear in television programs. During the 1970s, she spent 5 years as a recurring character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. This led to her character Phyllis getting a spin-off series that lasted for two seasons and resulted in her winning a Golden Globe.
Leachman worked throughout the 2000s appearing in different films and guest starring on television shows like “Two and a Half Men” and “Raising Hope”. In 2011, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Throughout her career, she won an Academy award, a Golden Globe, and eight Emmys.
Leachman was only married once during her lifetime to George Englund. The couple were married from 1953-1979. Together they raised four sons and a daughter. She is survived by four of her children, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.