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Iowa Native Cloris Leachman Dies

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CBS Television / Wikimedia Commons
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Actress Cloris Leachman circa 1970.

Actress Cloris Leachman has died. Leachman grew up in Des Moines, where she began acting on the stage as a child. She left Iowa to attend Northwestern University. Although she is best known for her comedy roles on the Mary Tyler Moore TV Show and Mel Brooks movies, Leachman’s acting style came from her stage training.

In 1989 as part of a play’s national tour stop in Iowa, Leachman told reporters that working on the stage gives her boundless energy.

“I’m like an old fire horse,” said Leachman. “My tail goes up and my eyes start bulging and my teeth come out and I go, here comes you know it’s like a ding ding ding! Whatever the call is, I rise instantly to the occasion.”

Leachman said unlike a movie or TV role, theater requires her performance to have more of her attention.

“I like to show more about life and when you get to play on the stage for a long time in a role, I mean just now on the way down here we’re still talking about more things to do more business, put another little line that I’ve been wanting to get it," she said. "It’s the details that makes a difference. It really does make all the difference.”

In 1972 she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar “The Last Picture Show” and eight Emmy Awards for her roles in television.

Leachman was 94 years old and had been living in California since the 1950s. She died of natural causes in Encinitas, California.