Cloris Leachman dies at 94: Actress known for work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Last Picture Show

Cloris Leachman, known for work in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Last Picture Show, has died. Credit: AP/PA

Actress Cloris Leachman, who won an Oscar for The Last Picture Show and Emmy for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died at the age of 94.

The US actress died of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, California, with her daughter at her side, her publicist said.

Leachman was known for playing the self-absorbed neighbour Phyllis in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She also appeared as the mother of Timmy on the Lassie series.

She played a frontier prostitute in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, a crime spree family member in Crazy Mama and the infamous Frau Bucher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

Cloris Leachman shows off her Emmy for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for her role in Malcom In The Middle Credit: Reed Saxon/AP

Despite starting out as Miss Chicago in the Miss America Pageant, Leachman accepted unglamorous screen roles throughout her acting career.

She told an interview in 1973: “Basically I don’t care how I look, ugly or beautiful.

“I don’t think that’s what beauty is. On a single day, any of us is ugly or beautiful. I’m heartbroken I can’t be the witch in The Wizard Of Oz. But I’d also like to be the good witch. Phyllis combines them both.

“I’m kind of like that in life. I’m magic, and I believe in magic. There’s supposed to be a point in life when you aren’t supposed to stay believing that. I haven’t reached it yet.”

Cloris Leachman poses with her Emmy award for outstanding single performance by an actress in A Brand New Life, in 1975 Credit: AP

In 1989, she toured in Grandma Moses, a play in which she aged from 45 to 101.

In the 1990s, she took on the role of the captain's wife in the revival of Show Boat.

In the 1993 movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies, she assumed the Irene Ryan role as Granny Clampett.

She also played Grandma Ida on Fox sitcom Malcolm In The Middle, winning Emmys in 2002 and 2006 for her work on that show.

And in 2008, she took part in the American TV dance competition Dancing With The Stars. Although she did not last long in the competition, she pleased crowds by wearing sparkly dance costumes, sitting in judges’ laps and swearing during the live television broadcast.