She received two Emmy Awards as the irrepressible Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moor Show
…she won an Oscar for her supporting role as a frustrated housewife in The Last Picture Show
…she delighted audiences with her deliciously villainous turns as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein
and Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety
…and she earned even more award nominations playing a hard-drinking grandmother in Spanglish.
But who, really, is Cloris Leachman?
She’s one of the most acclaimed, and unpredictable, actresses of our time. Transforming herself with every role, Cloris Leachman has been dazzling audiences for decades with her unusual gift for both comedy and drama. She’s appeared in 11 Broadway plays, 57 films, and 137 television shows—and has earned 16 awards and 23 nominations. Now, for the first time, the incomparable Cloris Leachman reflects on her amazing life and illustrious career…
From her hometown in Des Moines, Iowa (where she first saw Katharine Hepburn perform on stage, never imagining they would one day do Shakespeare together) to the bright lights of Broadway (where she had to work up the nerve to sing for Rogers and Hammerstein to get the lead in South Pacific) to the television studios of L.A. (where she hopped on producer James Brooks’s lap to land the role of Phyllis), Cloris’s journey has been filled with laughter and tears, marriage and motherhood, tragedy and triumph.
With surprising candor, she talks about her experiences at the Actor’s Studio, her “Peck’s bad boy” behavior on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her work with Mel Brooks and other filmmakers, her return to sitcoms with The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Malcolm in the Middle, and her difficulty shaking off the roles she immerses herself in. She shares wonderfully revealing anecdotes about her co-stars and friends: Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Dianne Keaton, Sissy Spacek, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and the Kennedy family. She reveals her source of inspiration behind High Anxiety (giant fake breasts) and The Last Picture Show (a disturbing childhood incident). Finally, she speaks frankly about being a celebrity icon, trying to balance her family, career, and boundless creativity energy.
This is the real Cloris Leachman as you’ve never seen her before.
Cloris Leachman is an award-winning star of stage, screen, and television. Recently she won her ninth Emmy, the most ever earned by an actor, and became a great-grandmother, an event that has given her an interesting new perspective on life. Readers can visit her online at: www.clorisleachman.com.
George Englund is a producer, director, and writer. He is also the author of The Way It’s Never Been Done Before: My Friendship with Marlon Brando. He currently lives in California.