Oscar winner and eight-time Emmy winner Cloris Leachman, best remembered as the delightfully neurotic Phyllis Lindstrom on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and her own subsequent sitcom, was remembered by Hollywood as an incredibly hilarious woman and “comedic genius.” She died of natural causes on Tuesday in Encinitas, Calif., and was 94.
Her portrayal of Phyllis garnered her two Emmys as a featured actress in a series during the mid-’70s and made her a household name. She won a supporting actress Academy Award in the early part of the decade for a far different character, an embittered small-town housewife in Peter Bogdanovich’s coming-of-age drama “The Last Picture Show.”
Her seemingly overnight success came only after two decades of hard work in theater, television and film. Leachman was in her 40s when stardom finally hit and effortlessly transitioned to more grandmotherly roles later in life.
Mel Brooks, director of “Young Frankenstein,” in which Leachman played Frau Blücher, whose name scared horses in the film, paid tribute to the actor and her talent. “She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher,” he wrote.
Such sad news—Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 27, 2021
Bruce Dern described Leachman as “one-of-a-kind.” In addition to playing husband and wife in 2018’s “Lez Bomb,” the two appeared in a 1962 episode of ABC’s “Stoney Burke.”
“Every now and then, we’re lucky enough to have a Cloris Leachman to work with and to know. She was truly a one-of-a-kinder,” Dern said in a statement.
George Takei remembered Leachman as a “funny lady [who] stole her way into our hearts and always left us smiling.”
Cloris Leachman has passed. The Oscar and Emmy-winning funny lady stole her way into our hearts and always left us smiling. She was 94.
Rest in peace, and save a laugh for us when we get there.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 27, 2021
Ed Asner shared “a picture from the last time I saw [her].” “Always beautiful,” he wrote. “Nothing I could say would top the enormity of my love for you. Until we meet again darling.”
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 27, 2021
TV director Greg Garcia paid tribute to the star and shared a photo of the two where Leachman is licking the back of his neck. “I can’t squeeze into a tweet all the fun times I had with this woman and how much I loved her so I’ll just say she’ll be extremely missed,” he wrote.
Very sad to find out we lost an absolute legend today, Cloris Leachman. I can’t squeeze into a tweet all the fun times I had with this woman and how much I loved her so I’ll just say she’ll be extremely missed. She was the definition of one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/xmOCTHYeBh
— Greg Garcia (@whoisgreggarcia) January 27, 2021
John Stamos shared a video of Leachman at the “Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget,” where she says she is there to “fuck John Stamos.” “God I loved her,” he added.
— John Stamos (@JohnStamos) January 27, 2021
Actor and comedian Daniel Franzese, known for his role in “Mean Girls,” reflected on his friendship with the prominent actor.
— Daniel Franzese (@WhatsupDanny) January 27, 2021
Comedian Matt Rogers, who appears on HBO Max’s “Haute Dog,” remembers Leachman as a “forever star.”
Oh, Cloris Leachman, what a forever star. Rest In Peace.
— Matt Rogers (@MattRogersTho) January 27, 2021
See more tributes below.
Cloris Leachman was a comedy legend. From a groundbreaking role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" to the films of Mel Brooks and her Oscar-winning turn in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show," she never lost her ability to shock, delight and surprise us. She will be missed. pic.twitter.com/tcyfF1uzWj
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 27, 2021
Love her forever. https://t.co/8uhSclxUVB
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) January 27, 2021
So sad over the loss of the brilliant Cloris Leachman. Beyond being an Academy award winner, her hilarious role in “Young Frankenstein,” and being “Phyllis,” I had the pleasure of being roasted by her on television. My deepest sympathies to her loved ones. pic.twitter.com/P2cUedaPlL
— bob saget (@bobsaget) January 27, 2021
— Sandra Bernhard (@SandraBernhard) January 27, 2021
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Oscar-winning actress Cloris Leachman. She joined us back in 2009 sharing some of her favorite films including WATERLOO BRIDGE ('40) and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD ('38). @THR remembers her here: https://t.co/ApPuY0PtlU pic.twitter.com/YymrfiIyQz
— TCM (@tcm) January 27, 2021
Cloris Leachman. A true legend.
One of the funniest of all time.
And such a great lady. Loved her. Will be missed terribly. And such a good family. Sending love to all. RIP pic.twitter.com/whq2qfvxcg
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) January 28, 2021