From Brando to Noriega to…Cloris Leachman. Their biographies were the subjects of my conversation today with George Englund. I had called to talk about the decision on extradition of Manuel Noriega from federal prison in Miami to a Paris jail. Englund, filmmaker-producer (“The Ugly Ameircan”), Brando friend and biographer had been a longtime visitor of Noriega’s in the Miami prison and had arranged his book deal. And now comes a book about/with Cloris Leachman, his (now ex-) wife of 26 years and mother of their five children. Cloris and their son George Englund Jr. have been working in Palm Springs with Englund Sr. on the presentatin for the book, which will be presented to publishers next week.
It’s no secret that Cloris was disappointed she was not chosen to play Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’ Broadway-bound musical. (She originated the role in the film.) But Brooks frankly said the role, in an eight-shows-a-week schedule, would be too physical an assignment for Cloris. (Andrea Martin is playing Frau Blucher.) So what has Cloris decided to do instead? In addition to writing her memoirs, she’s readying a one-woman show. Englund reminds me the Emmy and Oscar winner also starred on B’way in “South Pacific.” “She has a great voice and is also a fine pianist. Cloris is starting a whole new career. She is timeless!”