Emmys Flashback: Cloris Leachman Had a Double Win and a Dress Mishap in 1975

Cloris Leachma - Primetime Emmy Awards May 19, 1975- AP Photo- ONE TIME USE ONLY- P 2018
Lennox McLendon/ AP Photo

After accepting her first award, the star ripped open the stitching of her dress so she could breathe a little easier, but the Academy wasn't quite done with her, she recalls: "I remember being called back to the stage and I was half-undressed."

Cloris Leachman has more awards than she knows what to do with. Among them: an Oscar for 1971's The Last Picture Show; a Golden Globe for her work on her Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff, Phyllis; and eight Emmys — two of which she won at the 27th Emmy Awards, held at the Hollywood Palladium on May 19, 1975.

The first was for outstanding single performance by a supporting actress in a comedy or drama series, for "Phyllis Whips Inflation," a Mary Tyler Moore Show episode in which Leachman's character, a self-involved dermatologist's wife, discovers she has no marketable skills. After accepting, Leachman, sewn tightly that evening into a two-piece kimono dress, assumed that was that and ripped open the stitching so she could breathe a little easier. But the Academy wasn't quite done with her. "I remember being called back to the stage and I was half-undressed," recalls Leachman, now "ninety-fucking-two" years old. "All I was thinking was, 'How will I keep it on?' "

Her second Emmy that evening was for outstanding continuing or single performance by a supporting actress in variety or music (categories back then were a mouthful) for an appearance on CBS' Cher, the singer's post-Sonny Bono outing. "She gave me a sketch written for her," says Leachman. "It was ?a la Shakespeare. It had far-out words in it. She didn't want to do it, so she had me do it."

This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.