Cloris Leachman: 10 of Her Most Memorable Performances

3:00 PM 1/27/2021

by Courtney Idasetima

During her career, which spanned over seven decades, Cloris Leachman starred in movies, television shows and stage performances. She won seven Primetime Emmy Awards, one Daytime Emmy Award and an Academy Award.

Cloris Leachman
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  • 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

    From 1970 to 1975, Leachman played Mary Tyler Moore’s landlady who also happened to be her snobby friend and neighbor on the successful sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her role earned her two Emmys, in 1974 and 1975, as well as nominations in 1972 and '73.

  • 'The Last Picture Show'

    One of Leachman's best-known performances is in 1971's The Last Picture Show, which is based on the best-selling book of the same title by Larry McMurtry. Leachman played Ruth Popper, the wife of a high school gym teacher who has an affair. The role was originally offered to actress Ellen Burstyn, but she wanted another part — ultimately being cast as Lois Farrow — and the role of Ruth went to Leachman. For her performance, Leachman won an Academy Award for best supporting actress.

  • 'Young Frankenstein'

    In the comedy-horror film Young Frankenstein, Leachman played Frau Blücher, the castle housekeeper whose name prompted a horse to neigh in fear each time it was said. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy.

  • 'Phyllis'

    The success of Leachman's character Phyllis in The Mary Tyler Moore Show led to the spinoff Phyllis. The show lasted two seasons, ending the same year as the show it was based on and earning Leachman a Golden Globe in 1976 for best actress in a television series — comedy or musical.

  • 'The Facts of Life'

    Leachman was involved in another popular spinoff during her career: She starred in the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life, a spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes, for the last two seasons from 1986-88. Her character, Beverly Ann, became the property owner for Mrs. Garrett's house and the boutique store Over Our Heads and watched the girls of the Eastland School.

  • 'The Beverly Hillbillies'

    In the film The Beverly Hillbillies, based on the popular CBS sitcom, Leachman played Daisy May "Granny" Moses, a grandmother who picks up and moves to Beverly Hills with her family members.

  • 'Malcolm in the Middle'

    For 11 episodes, Leachman played Grandma Ida on the Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy every year she appeared on the show, taking home hardware in 2002 and 2006.

  • 'Dancing With the Stars'

    Leachman was a fan favorite on the seventh season of Dancing With the Stars. Although she did not take home the mirror ball trophy, at age 82, she was the oldest contestant on the show.

  • 'The Croods'

    The computer-animated DreamWorks Animation film starred Leachman as Gran, an old cavewoman who is the mother-in-law of Grug, the mother of Ugga, and the grandmother of Eep, Thunk and Sandy.

  • 'Raising Hope'

    Hope’s 84-year-old great-great-grandmother Barbara June, aka "Maw Maw," was portrayed by Leachman. She was a recurring character in season one and starred in the sitcom for the remaining three seasons.