The beloved actress died of natural causes in Encinitas, Calif., according to a statement from her manager.
"It's been my privilege to work with Cloris Leachman, one of the most fearless actresses of our time. There was no one like Cloris," her manager, Juliet Green, said in a statement. "With a single look, she had the ability to break your heart or make you laugh 'till the tears ran down your face. You never knew what Cloris was going to say or do and that unpredictable quality was part of her unparalleled magic."
Cloris's incredible career spanned over seven decades. During that time, she worked with countess other stars, many of whom were quick to pay tribute to her and recognize her greatness on the screen and stage.
Comedic legend Mel Brooks, who worked with Cloris on Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety, was quick to pay tribute to the woman who played the hilarious Frau Blucher in the former film.
Such sad news—Cloris was insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Always such a pleasure to have on set. Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher. She is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed.— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) January 27, 2021
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who along with Cloris is the most-decorated star in Emmys history, opened up about how the actress' work in Young Frankenstein had influenced her own comedic work.
— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) January 28, 2021
Viola Davis, one of Hollywood's most-awarded stars, praised Cloris and her body of work.
I loved your work!!! Just LOVED!! I grew up watching Phyllis and The Last Picture Show. Your consistent excellence, ability to morph, and bravery will be sorely missed. RIP Cloris Leachman! Godspeed https://t.co/hnWjdomZ3x
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 28, 2021
Younger readers may know Cloris from her portrayal of Ellen DeGeneres's mom on Ellen's second sitcom. Her former co-star was also quick to pay tribute to Cloris after news of her death broke.
Cloris Leachman played my mother on my second sitcom. I always considered myself lucky for having the chance to work with her. She will be missed.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 27, 2021
Former Glee star Chris Colfer reminisced about the benefit of working in close quarters with the actress.
The best part about working for FOX was getting to see Cloris Leachman at photoshoots and red carpets. She was hilarious, had no filter, and told the greatest stories. She used to tease me mercilessly and always left me wanting more. Heaven just got a lot more fun. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/0ljzHgaex0
— Chris Colfer (@chriscolfer) January 27, 2021
Jesse Tyler Ferguson shared a humorous story about the first time he met Cloris, revealing she was as hilarious off-screen as she was on camera.
The 1st time I met #ClorisLeachman was at a fundraiser. Without even saying hello, she came over to our table & started clearing our plates while we were mid bite. She took them & stacked them on a neighboring table. She did this until everything was gone, then walked away. RIP.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (he/him/his) (@jessetyler) January 27, 2021
Elizabeth Banks penned a heartfelt message about Cloris, who was her childhood idol.
— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) January 27, 2021
Adam Sandler wrote a moving piece and shared a sentimental photo of he and Cloris.
Cloris Leachman. A true legend.
One of the funniest of all time.
And such a great lady. Loved her. Will be missed terribly. And such a good family. Sending love to all. RIP pic.twitter.com/whq2qfvxcg
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) January 28, 2021
Born in 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa, Clories's career seamlessly covered television and film, as well as comedic and dramatic parts. She got her start after winning a scholarship in the Miss America pageant, and was one of the original members of Elia Kazan's Actors Studio in New York.
Cloris began her acting career on Broadway, landing roles in South Pacific and Come Back Little Sheba. She eventually branched out into film after meeting Katharine Hepburn, who asked her to appear in a staging of As You Like It.
In 1953, Cloris married film editor and director George Englund. The two had five children together before they divorced in 1979.
The 1950s saw her appear on television shows such as Suspense and The Twilight Zone, before landing a huge film role in The Last Picture Show, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel of the same name. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.
Cloris then moved into more comedic work, working with Mel in Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety. She also landed best-known role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. Her character, Phyllis Lindstrom, was given a spinoff series that ran for two years. The latter part won her a Golden Globe Award.
Later generations were introduced to the actress thanks to her role of Grandma Ida on Malcolm and the Middle and as Barbara June "Maw Maw" Thompson on Raising Hope.
She also made many memorable guest appearances, including competing on Dancing With the Stars in 2008, as well as appearances on Girl Meets World, Hot in Cleveland and RuPaul's Drag Race. Cloris also lent her voice to The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers and Elena of Avalor.
As mentioned, Cloris won a record-setting eight Emmy Awards throughout her career, and was nominated 20 times. In addition to her Oscar and Golden Globe, she also received a BAFTA, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame and won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.