Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman dies aged 94

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image copyrightReuters
image captionCloris Leachman won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show

US actress Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for The Last Picture Show and brought her comedic talents to numerous US sitcoms, has died at the age of 94.

Leachman died of natural causes at her home in California, with her daughter by her side, her publicist confirmed.

Her memorable roles included Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein.

Reese Witherspoon said she would be "deeply missed", while Mel Brooks described her as "insanely talented".

Leachman enjoyed a long career as a character actress, portraying Ida in Malcolm in the Middle and Timmy's mother in the Lassie series.

She also played Ellen DeGeneres' mother in her sitcom The Ellen Show, which aired in the early 2000s.

DeGeneres, who went on to become a hugely successful talk show host, tweeted: "I always considered myself lucky for having the chance to work with her. She will be missed."

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image captionL-R: Cloris Leachman, Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Over her career Leachman, who was once a beauty queen, also starred in films Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and Crazy Mama.

'Comedy legend'

Her performance as a neglected housewife in The Last Picture Show saw her win best supporting actress at the Oscars.

In her speech, she infamously told the audience: "I'm having an amazing life and it isn't over yet.

"I feel I've fought all my life against clichés, and look at me, I'm a hopeless cliché."

Paying tribute to the actress, the Academy, which oversees the Oscars, described Leachman as a "comedy legend".

"From a ground-breaking 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," they said. "She will be missed."

Leachman won eight Emmy Awards across her television career - a record for any actor, which she jointly holds with Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Writing on Twitter, Louis-Dreyfus said: "Cloris Leachman's perfect performance as Frau Blücher had an enormous impact on my life. She was sublime. 'He vas my boyfriend!' RIP."

image copyrightReuters
image captionInn 2002, Leachman won outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for her role in Malcolm in the Middle

Director Mel Brooks also praised her turn as the grim-faced Transylvanian housekeeper Blücher - whose very name struck fear into horses - in his 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein as "unforgettable".

He tweeted: "Such sad news - Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat.

"[She was] always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris' unforgettable Frau Blucher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed."

Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis said she grew up watching Leachman, adding: "Your consistent excellence, ability to morph, and bravery will be sorely missed. RIP Cloris Leachman! Godspeed."

Another Oscar-winner, Reese Witherspoon, said: "Truly original and larger than life in every unique performance. An incredibly talented actress who will be deeply missed. "

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