Human Interest

After nearly seven decades in showbiz, Cloris Leachman doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

The actress — who has won a record eight Emmy Awards — will be on hand for this year’s Sedona International Film Festival. There, she will be presented the Lifetime Achievement award. She will help kick off the festival on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Sedona Performing Arts Center with Cloris on Comedy beginning at 6 p.m.

Leachman began acting on television in the late 1940s and appeared in several series that continued into the ’50s and ’60s. In 1970 she was cast as Phyllis on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” a character that would quickly become one of the ones she’s most famous for. Her character was so popular that Leachman got a spin-off based on the character than ran an additional three years.

In 1971, Leachman won the Academy Award for her supporting role as a high school gym teacher in “The Last Picture Show.” In recent years, she’s continued to find steady work, appearing in movies and television while winning two of her Emmy Awards for her guest role on “Malcolm in the Middle.” And at the age of 82 she became the oldest contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”

In an interview with the Sedona Red Rock News, Leachamn talked about her career, friendship with Mary Tyler Moore and receiving the lifetime achievement award.

Q: How do you feel about attending the Sedona International Film Festival and receiving the lifetime achievement award?

I’m going to be 91, so it’s about time!

Q: What’s kept your passion for acting going for the last 70 years?

I have fun doing it. I’m lucky I’m still getting so many offers at my age.

Q: Had you not become an actress, what line of work do you think you would have gotten into?

I love playing the piano and I’m good at it. So, pianist. You have to be careful how you pronounce that word.

Q: What role do you feel you’re best known for?

On TV, “Phyllis” because of the popularity of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Movies, Frau Blücher in “Young Frankenstein” for Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.

Q: How enjoyable was it being on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show?”

Working with that cast and those writers was incredible.

Q: What would you like to say about you friend, Mary Tyler Moore?

I wish I could hug her just one more time.

Q: You hold the record for more Emmy wins, in a variety of roles, than anyone else. Are you pretty proud of that fact?

Very! They’re all proudly on display in my home.

Q: Was winning the Academy Award for “Last Picture Show” the pinnacle of your career and if not, what was?

I never expected to win, so I was so surprised but so happy about it. I’ve had so many highlights in my career. Seventy years is a long career.

Q: At last year’s film festival, Ed Asner said, “As long as I continue to be offered roles, I’ll continue to move forward.” Do you feel the same way?



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