The co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its Leachman-led spinoff Phyllis remembered the legendary nine-time Emmy-winning actress, who died Tuesday at age 94. Brooks specifically recalled Leachman auditioning for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. “She was outrageous in the reading," he told Variety. "It was not like an audition but somebody taking charge of the room. It was exciting to be with her because of that.” Brooks added: “She was the only person I ever knew who could make a certain kind of edgy outrageousness be lovable. You never knew what she was going to do. She was spontaneous. And there was a vulnerability to her. She was intrinsically funny but also brilliant funny.” After their 1970s work, Brooks teamed up with Leachman again for his 2004 Adam Sandler comedy movie Spanglish. “She was a very serious artist. She did it for the love (of performing). It was fun for her,” Brooks said. “She loved it when she got it right. She was not somebody to ask (a director) ‘How was I?’ She knew when it was right.”
Cloris Leachman was one of the greatest actors of all time: "When the words 'great' and 'actor' are linked together, we think of grandeur and power -- or, to get colloquial about it, 'oomph' and 'wow,'" says Gene Seymour. "We associate 'greatness' in an actor, man or woman, with the oversized roles they take on: Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Denzel Washington as Malcolm X, Meryl Streep as ... anybody! So when I tell you that Cloris Leachman ... was a great American actor -- one of the greatest, actually -- I expect many or most of you to arch a skeptical eyebrow in my direction. Cloris Leachman? you ask. Really?" Seymour adds that with more than 200 credits and many memorable characters, "the size of the role didn't seem to matter, nor did the age or deportment of the character involved. She seemed, literally, up for anything and everything."