Actress Cloris Leachman, best known for her comedic role as Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died aged 94.
According to her publicist, Leachman died of natural causes yesterday (January 27) at her Encinitas, California home with her daughter Dinah at her side, the Associated Press reported.
Over the course of her career, Leachman won eight Primetime Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy from 22 nominations – tying with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the most individual acting awards in Emmys history.
The actress played the self-absorbed, cunning Phyllis Lindstrom for five years on the The Mary Tyler Moore Show, becoming a household name through the programme in the 1970s. Leachman subsequently reprised the role and featured in a spinoff, Phyllis, between 1975 and 1977. She won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal.
In the earlier part of the decade, Leachman won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing small-town housewife Ruth Popper in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 feature film, The Last Picture Show. She was also known for playing Frau Blücher alongside Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein in 1974.
Between 2001 and 2006, Leachman had a recurring role on the sitcom Malcolm In The Middle. In 2008, Leachman was a contestant on season seven of the US reality competition Dancing With The Stars, making her, then aged 82, the oldest contestant to perform on the long-running series. She was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.
Leachman is survived by her daughter and sons Adam, George Jr. and Morgan. The family have requested that donations in Leachman’s name be made to PETA, of which she was a spokesperson and long-standing advocate.
Tributes have poured in for Leachman from both collaborators and admirers in the film and television world, including from the likes of Mel Brooks, Adam Sandler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Martin, Wanda Sykes and Jim Gaffigan.
Series that Leachman had appeared in, including The Muppets, The Simpsons and Dancing With The Stars, have also expressed their condolences via their official accounts. See those tributes below.
Such sad news—Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 27, 2021
— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) January 28, 2021
Cloris Leachman. A true legend.
One of the funniest of all time.
And such a great lady. Loved her. Will be missed terribly. And such a good family. Sending love to all. RIP pic.twitter.com/whq2qfvxcg
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) January 28, 2021
Cloris Leachman was queen of the Amazons and a queen of industry, breaking barriers and inspiring women in film and TV…
Salute to Cloris Leachman, who brought comedy’s mysteries to the big and small screen.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) January 27, 2021
Heartbroken to hear about the passing of my #WeddingRinger Co-Star, the legend #clorisleachman whose career has given us some of the most iconic performances in the history of comedy on the small screen (Mary Tyler More Show) and the big screen (Young Frankenstein). #RIP Legend🙏 pic.twitter.com/QuK6ifCcWf
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) January 27, 2021
Rest In Peace, Cloris Leachman. She was always the funniest one in the scene.
— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) January 28, 2021
RIP #ClorisLeachman I feel so honored to have had an opportunity to work with such an incredible talent.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) January 27, 2021
— John Stamos (@JohnStamos) January 27, 2021
RIP Cloris Leachman. She was so good in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Remember her throwing the coffee pot?
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 27, 2021
As a guest star on The Muppet Show, Cloris Leachman kept the show going despite an invasion of pigs and in The Muppet Movie she opened the door to our standard rich and famous contract. A legend and a great friend. Cloris, we will never forget you.
— The Muppets (@TheMuppets) January 27, 2021
— Al Jean (@AlJean) January 27, 2021
Cloris Leachman was a terrific actress, from KISS ME DEADLY to YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. I'll miss her.
— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) January 28, 2021
Brilliant and memorable though it is, Cloris Leachman's best performance in a 1970's classic shot in B&W is not 'Young Frankenstein' but her role in 'The Last Picture Show'. If you only know her as Frau Blücher, then prepare to be amazed. pic.twitter.com/sHd1vdhrwh
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) January 27, 2021