Late actress Cloris Leachman was much more than Malcolm's grandmother
She had a face that was recognizable for generations of cinema and TV audiences. Cloris Leachman was an actress talented enough to win an Oscar, play iconic roles in film and television and, as an octogenarian, to shine on a dance talent show. She died on January 27 at her home in Encinitas, California. This was her life.
Cloris Leachman was born in Desmoines (Iowa) in 1926. In 1947 she moved to New York and worked as a model. She trained at the legendary Actor's Studio, the academy where James Dean and Marlon Brando also played. Her teacher was Elia Kazan. After a short period in Broadway musicals, she soon entered the world of television.
Her first major role was in the television sitcom 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' a hit series of the 1970s. She was the protagonist's neighbor.
In 1971 she had her breakthrough role in cinema with 'The Last Picture Show'. Under the direction of director Peter Bogdanovich, she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe nomination (an award she just narrowly missed out on).
Shortly after, Leachman did also receive the Golden Globe Award. It would be for her role as Phyllis Lindstrom in the series 'Phyllis.' The award recognized her great work as the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical on television.
After a handful of performances in film and television, she became the grandmother in the series 'Malcolm in the Middle' in the 2000s. The role earned her two Emmy awards.
Over the years, Cloris Leachman continued to be linked to television and film through minor roles. She did so without losing her characteristic touch of humor, as shown in this photo where she appears alongside the great Betty White.
In 2004 she joined the cast of 'Spanglish', a comedy starring Adam Sandler. Her performance in this film once again earned her a nomination for one of the big awards of the season, the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Supporting Actress, although she did not win it.
At the age of 82, Cloris Leachman impressed ABC's audience as she appeared in 'Dancing with the stars.' She didn't win its seventh edition, but she did get to an honorable seventh place.
On a personal level, Cloris Leachman was married to George Englund and had five children. Her marriage to Englund ended in 1979 and she never remarried.
"It was a privilege to work with her," Cloris Leachman's representative Juliet Green said in an official statement. She called her "one of the bravest actresses of our time."
"There was no one else like her. With just one look, Cloris had the ability to break your heart or make you laugh until the tears came to your eyes. You never knew what she was going to say or do and I think that was the unpredictable quality of her magic."