A Tribute to TV & Film Legend Cloris Leachman

cloris leachman
Everett Collection

One of TV’s most beloved comedic actresses, Cloris Leachman, died of natural causes on Wednesday, January 27, at the age of 94.

A nine-time Emmy winner (she earned 8 Primetime Emmys and one Daytime) who appeared on countless TV shows staring in the 1950s, she is perhaps best known as the self-absorbed, snooty Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which cemented her as a force on the small screen.

For five seasons, Phyllis swept into the apartment of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) bragging about the prowess of never-seen husband Lars or being overly protective to her inquisitive daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen). But she was more than just an oversharing landlord to her news producer tenant: She was a supportive presence who would become a good friend.

In 1975, Leachman was given her own series, Phyllis, which followed the character, now widowed, and Bess to a new life in San Francisco. That series ran for two seasons on CBS.

She continued to bring her quick wit to roles on shows including The Facts of Life, Malcolm in the Middle,Raising Hope, and, most recently, on the Starz series, American Gods and the Spectrum revival of Mad About You. Leachman, in 2008, also became the oldest contestant to ever compete on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

She also stood out on the big screen, such as her hilarious portrayal as Frau Blücher in 1974’s Young Frankenstein. But it was a dramatic turn early on in her career that earned her an Oscar. Her intense, beautifully acted portrayal of a depressed middle-aged housewife in 1971’s The Last Picture Show earned Leachman a trophy for Best Supporting Actress.

As the tributes pour in for a legend who will be greatly missed, enjoy this 2013 clip in which Leachman is reunited with her Mary Tyler Moore Show “family” of Moore, Valerie Harper, Betty White, and Georgia Engel.