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Iowa History Daily: April 30 - Cloris Leachman

Iowa History Daily: On April 30, 1926, Oscar and Emmy award-winning actress Cloris Leachman was born in Des Moines. A Roosevelt High School grad in 1942, Leachman went on to a stunning career which spanned seven decades as an actress and comedienne.

The eldest daughter of Buck and Cloris Leachman, her father owned the Leachman Lumber Company of Des Moines. During her time as Roosevelt Rough Rider, Leachman appeared in a variety of plays put on by local youth at Drake University on weekends. After graduation, she headed to Chicago to attend Northwestern University where she also competed in Miss America 1946 as Miss Chicago.

On a scholarship for placing in the Top 16 of the Miss America Pageant, Leachman headed to New York City to study acting under Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio. A replacement during the original run of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” a variety of other Broadway roles followed including productions of “Come Back, Little Sheba,” “As You Like It,” and “The Crucible,” over the course of the 1950s.

During the 1950s Leachman also broke into television and film with roles on “Lassie” and in Robert Aldrich’s “Kiss Me Deadly.” Leachman went on to twenty-two Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and she won the award a record-setting eight times. Additionally, Leachman won the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 film “The Last Picture Show.” With nearly 300 credited roles as an actress, Leachman portrayed many familiar and well-loved characters over the course of her career before passing away on January 27, 2021. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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