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She received two Emmy Awards as the irrepressible Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moor Show. . .she won an Oscar for her supporting role as a frustrated housewife in The Last Picture Show. . .she delighted audiences with her deliciously villainous turns as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein and Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety. . .and she earned even more award nominations playing a hard-drinking grandmother in Spanglish.
But who, really, is Cloris Leachman?
She's one of the most acclaimed, and unpredictable, actresses of our time. Transforming herself with every role, Cloris Leachman has been dazzling audiences for decades with her unusual gift for both comedy and drama. She's appeared in 11 Broadway plays, 57 films, and 137 television shows and has earned 16 awards and 23 nominations. Now, for the first time, the incomparable Cloris Leachman reflects on her amazing life and illustrious career. . .
From her hometown in Des Moines, Iowa (where she first saw Katharine Hepburn perform on stage, never imagining they would one day do Shakespeare together) to the bright lights of Broadway (where she had to work up the nerve to sing for Rogers and Hammerstein to get the lead in South Pacific) to the television studios of L.A. (where she hopped on producer James Brooks's lap to land the role of Phyllis), Cloris's journey has been filled with laughter and tears, marriage and motherhood, tragedy and triumph.
With surprising candor, she talks about her experiences at the Actor's Studio, her "Peck s bad boy" behavior on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her work with Mel Brooks and other filmmakers, her return to sitcoms with The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Malcolm in the Middle, and her difficulty shaking off the roles she immerses herself in. She shares wonderfully revealing anecdotes about her co-stars and friends: Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Dianne Keaton, Sissy Spacek, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and the Kennedy family. She reveals her source of inspiration behind High Anxiety (giant fake breasts) and The Last Picture Show (a disturbing childhood incident). Finally, she speaks frankly about being a celebrity icon, trying to balance her family, career, and boundless creativity energy.
This is the real Cloris Leachman as you've never seen her before.
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George Englund, seventy-eight, is a writer, producer, and director. He directed Marlon Brando in the 1963 film The Ugly American. He lives in Palm Springs, California, with his dog, Eli.Review:
Leachman has won an Oscar (The Last Picture Show) and nine Emmy Awards, placed third in the Miss America Pageant, and raised five children. Despite years as Phyllis on TV's
The Mary Tyler Moore Show and memorable roles in films, she's probably now best known for her comedic turn on Dancing with the Stars, in her eighties, no less. The
devil-may-care, unpredictable persona she exhibited there seems to embody the real Leachman. She shares her career and marriage highs and lows (her ex-husband is coauthor and
the love of her life, though they are not together) and dishes on actors and lovers (e.g., Brando, Gene Hackman, Bobby Darin) in an entertaining though distracted way.
She studied at the Actors Studio but came up with her own philosophy, "Acting is make-believe... Have fun" and "Don't be afraid you're going to make a fool of yourself."
She lives what she preaches. Recommended for all public libraries and acting collections. ----Rosellen Brewer - Library Journal
Acclaimed actress Leachman reflects on a distinguished career and unconventional life..Equally adept at drama and comedy, Leachman has been a fixture in the pop-culture
firmament for five decades, winning nine Emmy Awards (a record for an actor) and an Oscar for her downbeat performance in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. Her memoir
takes a frank stroll down a particularly verdant memory lane, recounting her life and times in no particular chronological or thematic order, veering into endless
digressions and asides. The result is charming and frequently engrossing. Assisted by co-author and husband Englund (The Way It's Never Been Done Before: My Friendship with
Marlon Brando (2004), Leachman discusses many topics in salty, don't-give-a-damn language. Even when discussing the addiction and death of her son Bryan, she is grimly
sardonic about her own "drug": "it's got higher lethality than all of his combined. Your drug is hope, and you won't, you can't, you don't know how to give it up."
Leachman remembers Robert F. Kennedy as "cold" and laments the Kennedy brothers' shabby treatment of Marilyn Monroe. Her memories of Marlon Brando include dismay at
his selfishness and chaotic family life as well as admiration for his humor and talent. She provides a fascinating look at the Actors Studio in its heyday, startling
revelations about romantic trysts (Bobby Darin! Gene Hackman!), an honest depiction of her marriage (temporarily broken up at one point by Joan Collins), an account
of a terrifying early-stage experience with an imperious Katharine Hepburn and a bracing description of her tenure on Dancing with the Stars, which she joined as an
octogenarian. Self-characterized asmouthy and irreverent, Leachman delights with her candor in a host of delicious anecdotes. Her MTM co-star Ed Asner might not agree,
however; her account of a sexual wager between them, its outcome and his subsequent reaction, is priceless and embarrassing..Funny, gimlet-eyed and unpretentious someone
get this woman a talk show..Agent: Mitchell Walters/Curtis Brown. ----Kirkus Reviews
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