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Cloris Leachman the oldest contestant on Dancing With The Stars

Updated on November 12, 2012

Remembering Old Hollywood Stars : Doris Leachman

In the history of female or male Hollywood performers, no one has accomplished more than Cloris Leachman. The Des Moines native, born on April 30th 1926, has won eight Primetime Emmys, one Daytime Emmy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and many other achievements that have been bestowed upon the wonderfully talented actress. The daughter of Buck and Cloris Leachman, both working at the family owned Leachman Lumber Company, Leachman graduated from Roosevelt High School and with interest in acting at a young age, was a member at Des Moines Playhouse, starring in several stage productions before majoring in drama at Northwestern University and at Illinois State University.

Cloris Leachman

Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman

Despite her deep interest in acting, Cloris Leachman’s career did not really take off until she won the title of the Miss Chicago beauty pageant in 1946 and competed in Miss America. With the scholarship earned from winning the beauty pageant, Leachman moved to New York City and studied at the prestigious Actors Studio and with training under her belt, she gained roles in Broadway, appearing in numerous plays such as Sundown Beach, South Pacific and As You Like It. Leachman, however, was not satisfied with theater and stage performances and moved on to television and movies, landing small but notable roles in Studio One, Suspense and The Philip Morris Playhouse. Leachman finally landed her first recurring role in Lassie in 1957, although she was replaced by June Lockhart, her performance in Lassie would be the start of the blossoming of her career.

Dancing With The Stars - Cloris Leachman

1970 proved to be the year Cloris Leachman would turn from an aspiring actress to a Hollywood star, almost overnight. Leachman landed the role of Phyllis Lindstrom, a self-centered and annoying landlady on the hit television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her performance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was to much acclaim, leading to a nomination for an Emmy for her performance in her first year as a cast member. Subsequent years led to several other nominations and sterling performances in the television movie A Brand New Life, feature films The Last Picture Show, Charley and the Angel and Young Frankenstein won her numerous accolades, turning Cloris Leachman into a much sought-after A-list actress.

By 1975, Leachman’s role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show was exceptional enough to warrant her own spin-off show titled Phyllis. Her performances were consistent on Phyllis, enough to be nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe win for the much acclaimed Best TV Actress. The 1970s were kind to the ever-popular Leachman as she was nominated for television variety shows and specials such as Telly Who Loves Ya Baby? and It Happened One Christmas. In the 1980s, having portrayed herself brilliantly on screen, Leachman started her run in voice-acting, showing off her voice-acting skills in movies such as Volcano of Gloom, the Iron Giant and Castle in the Sky, all of which proved to be successful and earned her more acclaim. However, even her appearance in The Facts of Life as Beverly Stickle, replacing Charlotte Rae, was not enough to save the show from cancellation.

Recently, Cloris Leachman has found much fame playing an evil, ruthless Grandma Ida on Malcolm in the Middle, winning two Emmys and being nominated for six straight years. Despite her age, Cloris Leachman has been more active than ever, she is slated to star alongside current Hollywood starlets in New York, I Love You and The Christmas Movie and at eighty two years of age, was a contestant in the highly popular dance-off show Dancing With The Stars where she was ever-popular with the audiences with her crazy and humorous antics. Leachman has also found time to release her own line of clothing called “Cloris”. With as much television and movie appearances when she was in her acting prime, Leachman looks set to break even more records in the entertainment industry, the future looks bright as ever for the legend.


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