Cloris Leachman

Many of you know I no longer watch television. So it may come as a surprise, that today’s post is inspired by the cancellation of a television show: Raising Hope.

For me, the gem of the show was “Maw Maw,” played by Cloris Leachman. This woman possesses quite a performance pedigree.

Let’s start at the beginning. Born to Berkeley Claiborne “Buck” Leachman and Cloris (Wallace) Leachman on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa. I loved that she was named after her mother.

Cloris Leachman in 1970.

Cloris Leachman in 1970.

She won the title of Miss Chicago in 1946 putting her squarely in the 20th Miss America Pageant. It’s not surprising her film and television career started shortly after.

She majored in Drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern University, becoming a method actor. You may have noticed her love of props.

Let’s not forget the crop of classmates who graduated from Northwestern University with her. They include Paul Lynde, Charlotte Rae, Martha Hyer, Patricia Neal, and Agnes Nixon. Now that’s some crowd.

Her mantel must be large, because so far during her career she won 8 prime time Emmys and one daytime Emmy; and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in The Last Picture Show. Lest we not forget the Golden Globe for Phyllis. There are a few others sitting close by.

A very small sampling of her TV credits include: Mary Tyler Moore Show, the spin off Phyllis (which was cancelled after season two because three of the regular cast members died), Malcolm in the Middle and Raising Hope, which left the air waves in April of this year.

As I’m a fan of Mel Brooks, how can I not mention Frau Blücher in Young Frankestein (Okay, I have to say it: Remember the violin and the line, “He vas my boyfriend”), Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety and Madame Defarge in History of the World: Part I.

Her sense of humor has taken her where few would dare tread. She spoofed the Demi Moore Vanity Fair magazine cover photo by posing nude on the cover of Alternative Medicine Digest wearing only body-paints with images of a fruit. You go, girl!

So what’s next? Maybe AARP will have an inaugural swimsuit edition, in which they put Cloris on the cover. I’d buy it. 🙂

Cloris in 2009. I hope I look that good at 83. Photo courtesy of Angela George.

Cloris in 2009. I hope I look that good at 83. Photo courtesy of Angela George.

Then there is my favorite film you’ve never heard of: The North Avenue Irregulars made by Disney in 1979. The crux of the story is crooks move into their town to set up shop, the minister and a group of church ladies are willing to do anything, no matter how wacky, to get the crooks out of town.

Shall we watch one of my favorite movie moments together? The set-up, Cloris’ character, Claire—a.k.a. Phantom Fox, is at her regularly scheduled appointment at the beauty parlor getting her nails and hair done. She gets called into action earlier than planned because the criminals moved up their schedule. She dashes out of the beauty parlor, mid-appointment, in the hopes of delaying the crime boss from taking over the town.

Take it away Cloris:

Freshly manicured nails are such a terrible thing to waste. 😉

Props to you Cloris!

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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28 Responses to Cloris Leachman

  1. kerbey says:

    That top pic of her is so pretty. I can see why she won. So one of her classmates was Charlotte Rae and then she replaced Charlotte on “Facts of Life”? I remember seeing her on that show when it jumped the shark. Good for Cloris, still alive and kicking. And really, no TV? Is it painful?

    • Dave says:

      Technically I don’t have TV either, but I watch shows online. (Notice how I just prevented certain death at the hands of a distraught Amber with that last phrase 🙂 ). Frankly, I kind of enjoy it because it gives me more control over my watching schedule, and I don’t get caught just sitting there watching random stuff because it’s on.

      • kerbey says:

        But then how would you feel connected to the rest of the country if you didn’t watch timely shows? I can understand postponing Discovery or TLC or HGTV, but what about water cooler talk: “Did you see that weird Michael Jackson hologram last night? What about J.T. and Fallon’s History of Rap? Man, that was sweet.” What about The Voice and Dancing with the Stars? Maya Rudolph’s new variety show last night? Her GPS impression? Okay, maybe I’m addicted to TV…

        • Dave says:

          Haha, the Maya Rudolph variety show seems pretty awesome! The others I can handle missing out on. I use Facebook as a news aggregator, and if something was important enough, then it’ll show up in my feed and I’ll watch a Youtube video or read someone’s commentary or something. But I don’t feel like I missed out on a lot of good conversations by missing the original airing of Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke’s VMA performance 😉

          • kerbey says:

            You said a mouthful there, brother.

          • Liz says:

            Oh, Dave. You of a younger generation. You have a social media aggregator. I remember having to read TV Guide (or heaven forbid the TV page in the daily newspaper) to figure out what was going on.

    • Liz says:

      I love it when people talk about jumping the shark. Can we talk about it more? Like Fonzie jumping the shark once in Happy Days and then again in Arrested Development? And lots of other examples of jumping the shark. Lucky is the show that ends before it jumps the shark. Even Brady Bunch jumped the shark when Cousin Oliver came on. Jump the shark jump the shark jump the shark.

      • kerbey says:

        LOL, Liz. I think that’s why Jerry Seinfeld wanted to go out on top. Although that final jail episode was pretty rough…

        • Liz says:

          I am The Only Person On the Planet who never watched Seinfeld. Never got it, though folks say there was nothing to get and that’s what made it great. ???

          Though I do remember a bit about fro yo (Elaine gained weight because she was eating from a new shop that promised zero cals, but they were lying) and also there was a Soup Nazi. So I did catch a few food snippets. Did you watch and enjoy?

          Did you watch Friends? If so, do you think they got out in time?

          • kerbey says:

            Yes, I watched a lot of Seinfeld, but remember, I watch a lot of TV. Yes, I watched Friends every week. I think I was getting bored of it by the end, Chandler marrying Monica, Rachel and Ross having Emma but not staying together–I didn’t like that.

        • Liz says:

          I feel that Monica did a disservice to mothers everywhere, acting like taking care of babies was so easy. Strapping them on her front come moving day, saying good bye. In real life, the babies would have been crying and puking and she and Chandler would have been fighting about what to do.

          Did you watch Desperate Housewives?

          • kerbey says:

            No, I can’t deal w/ people fighting and yelling. It makes me uncomfortable. Or violence, killing, CSI, NCIS, any other acronyms…

        • Liz says:

          The yelling and fighting and killing in DH was more comedy than anything else. The show definitely jumped the shark (!) at some point, but it was fun to follow the ladies and see what hijinks they got themselves up to.

    • LOL. No TV is not as painful as it sounds. You do end up with more time to spend on hobbies. 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    Thank you! Cloris is someone I’ve been wanting us to cover for quite some time! What a name!

    P.S. I’d totally buy the AARP Swimsuit Edition if it had Cloris on it! I think my dad gets AARP magazine for free though, so maybe I’ll have to stop on by and see if he had a copy first. 🙂

  3. ksbeth says:

    wow, that name and a second generation name at that. i’ve always admired her dark humor and ability to make great fun of herself )

  4. Arto says:

    Berkely Claiborne “Buck” Leachman must have been one proud papa. With a dad with such a great name, Cloris was born for good things from the start. You just reminded me what a good movie The Last Picture Show was.

  5. amb says:

    I love Cloris, and Raising Hope, and you. And not necessarily in that order 😉
    And does anything else think that young Sandra Bullock looks an awful lot like young Cloris Leachman?

    • Now that you mention it, I’ve never noticed the resemblance before between Sandra and Cloris. Great catch. Clearly that’s why Sandra was so perfect for “Miss Congeniality”.

  6. Liz says:

    great post, Fannie. Nicely researched and written and decorated with photos 🙂 Though I see you didn’t use Hot Girls as a tag, which totally would’ve brought you more clicks. Just sayin’ Thanks for introducing me to a new movie 🙂 Looks hilarious.

    • Thanks, Liz. I was tempted to use the “hot girls” tag, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And if you do watch the “North Avenue Irregulars,” you will feel like you’ve traveled back to the 70’s.

  7. wdydfae says:

    Nice one, Fannie!

    I made the mistake of reading the comments first and found it one of the most mystifying and arcane threads I’d ever gone through. I’m like, What are they talking about?

  8. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    Last week’s post for the BoFN. If you’re a fan of Cloris Leachman, you will enjoy this one.

  9. aplscruf says:

    Wow, am I late to the party here…Love Cloris and the hilarious comments above! And that video–I’ll have to check out that movie sometime. I was sad when Raising Hope was canceled, too. Cloris really stole the show!

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