He’ll be watching–and he’ll be cheering her. That’s what Mel Brooks told me today when I related to him a phone conversation I’d just had with CLoris Leachman. She’ll be a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” starting Monday. As you may (or may not) recall Cloris had starred as “Frau Blucher” in, Brooks’ film “Young Frankenstein ” (As well as in his “High Anxiety” and “The History of the World, Part I”). She was anxious to reprise her “Frau Blucher” role in the B’way musical and tested. Andrea Martin got it. and Mel told me the role–eight performances a week–was very strenous “And we didn’t want Cloris (81) to die on stage.”
Cloris, now 82, sounded terrific on the phone and told me of her determination to do “Dancing.” “”Twice, they (the show’s producers ) said I couldn’t do it–but the third time–after an hour-long meeting, along with my manager (son George Englund, Jr.) they said ‘OK’.” Her family, from ex-husband George, Sr., to granddaughter Skye will be on hand . Cloris has been rehearsing hours daily with her partner Mark “Corky” Ballas, Sr.” And she laughingly admits, that following these sessions, “I go to bed! “Their first dance, Monday is the Fox Trot and the second dance is the Mambo. If she continues into the competition, Quinton Tarantino told her he’d arrange the shooting schedule in Berlin–for her role in “Inglorious Bastards.” She says it’s “the best film script I’ve ever read. It;’s beyond belief. She plays an elderly Jewish woman in WWII. She recentl also played an “old Jewish woman” married to Eli Walllach–with whom, she says she was in the first group of the Actors Studio. And currently Cloris can be seen in “The Women”–stealing scenes when she’s on screen. She recalls working for George Cukor (director of the original “Women”) in “The Chapman Report” in 1962.”He (CUkor) was mad at me,” laughs CLoris, ” and he kept my backto the camera all the time.” It didn’t stop her career which now also includes costarring in “The American Cowslip” with Val Kilmer, Diane Ladd, Rip Torn and Peter Falk in which CLoris displays yet another talent–playing poker.