Actress and cabaret performer Claiborne Cary, sister of thesp Cloris Leachman, died March 20 in Costa Mesa, Calif., of complications due to Parkinson’s disease. She was 78.
Born Claiborne Leachman, in Lone Tree, Iowa, she started dancing and performing at an early age. She attended U. of Iowa and Northwestern U. after which she moved to New York City.
Cary made her Broadway debut in 1956’s “Silk Stockings” in which she also toured nationally with Don Ameche. The following year she appeared on the Rialto in “The New Girl in Town.” Other Broadway appearances include “Beg, Borrow or Steal” with Eddie Braken and Betty Garrett, “Hellzapoppin 67” and “The Supporting Cast.”
Off Broadway she appeared in “Smiling, the Boy Fell Dead,” “All Kinds of Giants,” “Faith, Hope and Charity,” and “Kukla, Burr and Ollie.”
TV credits include “Young Dr. Kildare,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Law and Order.”
Cary also worked steadily in commercials, but after the birth of her son Berkeley Northrop she turned to the cabaret scene, appearing at major clubs on both coasts. She produced and starred in the Murray Grand revue, “Grand Slam,” and toured the country in a stage version of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
She worked in regional theater, such as “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom” with Tyne Daly and Charles Durning at Long Beach, Calif., and recorded two CDs: “Now and Then” and “Miss Claiborne Cary Live.”
Her last appearance was in cabaret in early the 2000s.
She is survived by her sister Leachman, a son and two granddaughters.