Tag Archives: Cloris Leachman

Cloris Leachman Talks ‘DWTS’ Redux: ‘I Insist On Coming Back’

            In case you haven’t heard, Season 15 of “Dancing With the Stars” will be the show’s first season of returning celebrity contestants.  Well, get ready, because force of nature Cloris Leachman tells us, “Oh, I insist on coming back!”

There is a catch, though.  The 86-year-old performer, already the eldest among the “DWTS” stars when she competed four years ago, reminds us that “When I did it, I had a bad knee, and they would give me a shot in my knee.  I had about three, and it’s not good to have too many of those shots.  So I had a knee replacement after the show was over for me.”  Now, says Cloris, who made it through six out of ten weeks before being eliminated from the show, “My knee is still sensitive and it doesn’t bend all the way as my right knee does.  So I’m sorry about that, but I want to go back and finish the last four!”

She laughs her wild laugh, then archly declares, “I must be there, that’s all there is to it.”

In fact, Cloris — who notes that ABC has a viewer poll concerning which stars should come back — says she is spending part of her time between filming seasons of Fox’s “Raising Hope” working on getting back into her best physical shape.  That way, “I can be ready for anything.”

Does she have a particular regimen?

“I don’t like the word ‘regimen,’ so no,” Cloris replies.  “I like to find out the latest thing in any department, and then I like to try it, no matter what it is.”

She also has parts in two movies coming up to shoot this summer (“The Home” horror flick set in chiller, and a drama that may get a title change) and another couple of films awaiting release (“Gambit,” “Adult World”).

And then there’s the talk of chances that her performance as the outrageous, only occasionally lucid Maw Maw character on “Raising Hope” might get her more Emmy attention.  Cloris already has nine Emmys, the most of any actor, out of more than 20 nominations — but says her excitement about the awards hasn’t diminished at all.  In fact, she feels it “more than ever.”

She also says, “If I have nine, why not ten and make it an even number?  It would be easier for everyone to remember.”  But seriously, “I’d be thrilled out of my mind.”

It’s On! Betty White Vs. Cloris Leachman Ultimate Octogenarian Emmy Matchup

Cloris Leachman

Betty White

When the 63rd Prime Time Emmy Awards are presented Sept. 18, unfortunately, we won’t be seeing what could have been the Ultimate Octogenarian TV Awards Smackdown.  No, even though Emmy queens Betty White and Cloris Leachman are each nominees this year, they’re in different categories.  Betty is in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy category where she belongs, while Cloris is a Guest Star nominee despite being on nearly every episode of her show, because that’s how she’s billed, and that’s how she chose to submit herself for Emmy consideration.

Still, awards handicappers are wondering which TV legend will add to her Emmy haul this year — or whether both, or neither, will win.   Accordingly, here is a snapshot of  the grande dames – or “old broads” as Betty would say – and how they match up:

Cloris Leachman:  Born: April 30, 1926, Des Moines, IA
Emmy Nominations 22
Wins 9 (8 primetime, more than any other performer)
Unforgettable As: Frau Blücher in “Young Frankenstein,” Nurse Diesel in “High Anxiety,” Phyllis Lindstrom in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

Betty White:  Born: January 17, 1922, Oak Park, IL
Emmy Nominations: 21
Wins: 7 (6 primetime; she was the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy)
Unforgettable As: Sue Ann Nivens of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Rose Nyland of “Golden Girls,” Sandra Bullock’s grandmother-in-law to-be in “The Proposal”

Cloris’ Other Honors Include: Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress, 1971, “The Last Picture Show”); induction into Television Hall of Fame; 1 Golden Globe, 1 Screen Actors Guild Award

Betty’s Other Honors Include:  3 Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, Induction into Television Hall of Fame

Current Job:  Cloris says she wasn’t looking to get back into series work when Fox’s “Raising Hope” came her way, but she immediately loved the character of dotty, awful Maw Maw, who goes around in her bra and orange stretch pants, and whose first response to her infant great-granddaughter was “get that dog off my couch!” 

Current Job:  Betty initially thought she was only going to do the pilot of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” as “a heavy, a villain,” but found she enjoyed her costars so much, she wanted to stick around.  Her shady lady Polish caretaker character, Elka Ostrovsky, has developed into “one of the gang” and a driving force on the sitcom. 

Cloris’ Other Current/Recent:  Upcoming remake of “Gambit” with Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth, Grand Marshall of several Gay Pride parades, 2008 “Dancing With the Stars” as oldest contestant ever.

Betty’s Other Current/Recent:  Celebrity Frontwoman for AARP, Facebook campaign that led to SNL hosting, Snickers spot, upcoming show in which seniors punk younger people.

Quotes About Betty:  “I’m so sick of Betty White.  Never liked her,” “She’s such a slut.” 

Quote About Cloris:  “Is she still conscious?”  (They’re joking!)

Redford Connection:  Cloris appeared as a prostitute in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” (1969).

Redford Connection:  When Betty’s SAG Life Achievement Award was announced, reporter Gregg Kilday asked her if there were things in show business she’d like to do that she’s yet to do.  “With a sly, mischievous smile, White replied:  ‘Robert Redford.'” 

Ms. Leachman in a Nutshell:  Miss Chicago of 1946 and a Miss America contestant, she majored in drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern University, and studied with Elia Kazan at NY’s famous Actors Studio.  Plays wild comedy and searing drama with equal brilliance.  Married to Hollywood impresario George Englund from 1953 to 1979, Leachman had five children. (Son Bryan died of a drug overdose in 1986.)  Animal advocate.  Notoriously colorful Hollywood character — everyone seems to have a Cloris story — she’s done interviews while bathing.

Mrs. Ludden in a Nutshell:  Three months after graduating from Beverly Hills High School, Betty appeared on an experimental TV station in Los Angeles — in 1939.  She performed onstage and on the radio before joining the daily, live variety show “Hollywood on Television” with Al Jarvis in 1949.  “The Queen of Game Shows.”  The love of her life was third husband Allen Ludden, the “Password” emcee.  They were married from 1963 until his death in 1981, and she was stepmother to his children. A great pet lover and highly active in animal welfare for decades, Betty is a Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) Trustee.

Less Known About Cloris:  “Joanne Woodward and I were the only women [film stars] who nursed our babies back when we were new mothers.  After that, nursing became popular and a lot of babies were much happier because of that.” 

Less Known About Betty: She has a sometimes-naughty sense of humor and there’s a clip of her telling “Golden Girls” castmate Rue McClanahan a blue joke that can be found on the internet.  Plays poker.

Cloris loves to eat: “Salad with my fingers”

Betty loves to eat: Hot dogs.

Cloris Deals With Age By:  Maintaining her vegetarian lifestyle, getting 10 hours of sleep a night.

Betty Deals With Age By:  Not thinking about it (she sleeps maybe five hours a night) and focusing on things that make her happy. 

Cloris Leachman Enticed by Greg Garcia to Play Mad Maw Maw

Cloris Leachman

Eight-time Emmy winner Cloris Leachman says she wasn’t looking to return to the TV series scene when Fox’s “Raising Hope” came her way.  “I had nothing to do with it.  It’s all his doing,” she says, referring to show creator Greg Garcia (“My Name is Earl”).  And now, “I’m madly in love.  I’ve been laughing so hard.  I don’t know when I’ve been so excited.”

Cloris was taken right away with the role of Maw Maw, who goes around in her bra and orange stretch pants, and whose first response to her infant great-granddaughter is “Get that dog off my couch!”

Fox has scheduled “Raising Hope” to follow its hottest hit, “Glee,” this fall — what you could call an excellent in-house review.  Two cast members were replaced from the original pilot, but Cloris feels that “shows what faith the network has in this show.  It’s very costly to add to this thing,” she says of the first episode.

The “Raising Hope” cast – including Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt – begins shooting episodes next month.  Cloris is not sitting idly waiting to go to work until then, however.  Fresh from serving as grand marshal of this year’s Pride parade in San Diego, she’s doing her one-woman show Aug. 6-8 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and looking forward to promotional chores for the big screen horror thriller “The Fields” with Tara Reid.  In it, the Oscar winner (“The Last Picture Show”) plays the grandmother of an eight-year-old boy being terrorized by unseen forces.

MEANWHILE:  Eighty-four-year-old force of nature Cloris attributes her energy level to the vegetarian lifestyle she’s embraced for decades.  Indeed, we can’t help but remember her announcing that she only eats brightly-colored food during a luncheon meeting at least 20 years ago.  (She also told us she loves to eat salad with her fingers, which she demonstrated right there in the Disney commissary.)  Now articles about nutrient-rich brightly-colored foods are common.

“I was ahead of my time,” she says happily.  “And Joanne Woodward and I were the only women who nursed our babies back when we were new mothers.  After that, nursing became popular and a lot of babies were much happier because of that.”  She adds, “You have to teach yourself child-raising.  It’s not ever taught in school and it should be.  They teach how to kick a ball, or throw it or hit it – it’s all about balls.  It should be more about bats.”

And there you have it.

Linda Gray Has a Blast With Fellow Stars of a Certain Age in Big Screen ‘Expecting Mary’

Linda Gray tells us she had a blast making the big-screen “Expecting Mary,” which has an anticipated fall release.  The indie film has a pregnant teen – Oleysa Rulin of “High School Musical” fame – running away and winding up in a trailer park, the denizens of which are a colorful assortment of crazies in their AARP years.  Linda Stars with Elliott Gould, Lanie Kazan, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Della Reese, Fred Willard and Gene Simmons.

“We shot it in 18 days.  Because everybody loved their role, we all came together quickly.  It was like going to party you can’t wait to go to,” says the actress who reigned over the TV scene as Sue Ellen Ewing on “Dallas” back in the 80s.  Gray plays a former Vegas showgirl “whose last gig was in New Mexico.  She’s funny and pathetic – and still can be glamorous.”

Linda Gray

Linda was also instrumental in getting “Expecting Mary” made.  She’d gotten to know screenwriter Dan Gordon when “we both bought the rights to ‘Terms of Endearment’ as a play, which I did in London about eight years ago.  During that time we talked about what fun it would be to come up with something more comedic than Sue Ellen or Aurora, the part I played in ‘Terms,’ and we started throwing out ideas.”

Gordon eventually wrote “this miraculous screenplay” for “Expecting Mary” as a result.  The fact that the movie put so many talents of a certain age to work is, of course, one of Gray’s favorite parts of the enterprise, since all of her cast mates – save Olesya, of course – have had to face unapologetic Hollywood ageism.  “We approached it with a lot of humor.  We made a pact: Nobody under 50 allowed.:”

MEANWHILE:  Asked about the chances of any more on-camera “Dallas” reunions, Gray is quick to respond, “Oh, God no.  Unless something very classy came along, we’re through.”

That’s not to say, however, that the “Dallas” cast is through getting together on their own.  Linda says that she and Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy got together just a matter of weeks ago when Duffy was in town from his Oregon home for a “Bold and the Beautiful” appearance, and it’s not unusual that they and other former cast mates meet for “long lunches or dinners.  One of the joys of doing ‘Dallas’ was the enduring friendships.  We’ve known each other 33 years.  We text each other now.  Our kids have us all using iPhones.”

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS:  Terry Crews admits that having his and his family’s lives opened for the world to see on their “The Family Crews” reality show has been an adjustment for everyone.  With Season 2 of the BET show now in production, he recalls that when the first season began to air, “We got off Facebook and all that stuff.  We retreated.  We felt like, ‘Hey, if you want to know something about us, watch the show.’  There has to be a boundary, a limit.  You start to feel like you don’t have any privacy at all.”

According to him, they have bumped into “a couple of people” who’ve been negative.  “And you’re like, ‘Eh!  They don’t like me.’  But the thing is, most of the people we encounter are fans and they’re nice.  It’s fun to talk to them.”

Crews, who’s also starring in the series version of TNT’s “Are We There Yet?” says “We’re pretty excited about Season 2” of the reality skein.  “On our show, the drama doesn’t come from me versus my wife, or us versus the kids.  We’ve decided we’re going to stick together, to have each other’s back.  When my daughter announced she was pregnant, that was a really big family issue.”  Obviously, baby on board will be a theme this coming season.