Cloris Leachman’s cause of death at age 94 last month was due to a stroke, ET Canada confirm.
According to the actress’s death certificate, her death was due to a “cerebrovascular accident. In addition, COVID-19 filled the section that lists additional “significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in underlying cause given.”
The death certificate details her date of death as Jan. 27, 2021.
Following her passing, Leachman’s longtime manager Juliet Green confirmed the news to ET Canada, revealing she died in her sleep.
“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. 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,” said Green in a statement to ET Canada.
“She loved her children and her grandchildren ferociously,” Green added. “A lifelong vegetarian, she was a passionate advocate for animal rights. The family requests that any donations in her name be made to PETA or Last Chance for Animals.”
Born in 1926, Leachman boasts a list of screen credits that extends from 1940s and through to the 2020s, including her hilarious performance as Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy masterpiece “Young Frankenstein”.
Leachman is best remembered for playing nosy landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, also playing the character for two seasons on the spinoff “Phyllis”.
Leachman began her career onstage in New York, making her film debut in an uncredited appearance in the 1947 film “Carnegie Hall” (1947) while she was an understudy for the lead female role in Broadway comedy “John Loves Mary”.
During the next decade, Leachman appeared in numerous Broadway productions and made her foray into television, guest-starring on several 1960s shows.
Leachman sprang to fame on the big screen when she was cast as prostitute Agnes in 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, leading to bigger film roles.
In 1972, Leachman took home her first and only Oscar, winning Best Supporting Actress for playing the lonely wife of a high school football coach in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show”.
Her role in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” brought her even more acclaim and lasting fame, in addition to two consecutive Emmys, in 1974 and 1975.
She won two more Emmys during the 1970s, one in 1973 for the TV movie “A Brand New Life”, and another in 1975 for a guest-starring appearance on Cher’s variety show.
After appearing in “Young Frankenstein” and Brooks’ 1977 followup “High Anxiety”, Leachman worked primarily in theatre and television, winning two more Emmys (in 1984 and 1996).
In addition to numerous TV guest appearances, she was a member of the casts of “The Facts of Life” and Ellen DeGeneres’s short-lived “The Ellen Show”. She also had a recurring role on “Touched By an Angel” and “Malcolm in the Middle”, playing Grandma Ida (a role that won her two more Emmys).
In 2010, she joined the cast of sitcom “Raising Hope” playing addled Maw Maw for four seasons until the show ended its run in 2014.
In 2017, Leachman portrayed a Slavic goddess in “American Gods”, in addition to voicing characters on animated series “Creative Galaxy” and “Justice League Action”, and voicing a cavewoman in big-screen animated comedy “The Croods” and its 2020 sequel.
Leachman, a vegetarian since the 1950s, was also an animal rights activist. “Animals have lost one of their most dedicated advocates with the passing of Cloris Leachman,” declared a statement from PETA, which honoured her with a lifetime achievement award in 2017.
In a statement, PETA told ET Canada, “Animals have lost one of their most dedicated advocates with the passing of Cloris Leachman. A vegetarian since the 1950s, she lent her timeless beauty to PETA’s ‘Let Vegetarianism Grow on You’ ad, her charm to our ‘Give Thanks & Go Vegetarian!’ holiday campaign, and her quirky wit to our spay/neuter public service announcement. It was our honour to present her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her efforts to help animals great and small, from orcas at SeaWorld and elephants in circuses to caged birds in retirement homes, and we will always treasure her legacy of compassion.”
“Let whatever’s going to happen, happen,” Leachman once said, summing up her philosophy of life. “Don’t judge it before you do it. Sure, sometimes it will be terrible, but sometimes it will just be amazing. That’s where the gold is.”
Following news of Leachman’s passing, numerous celebrities took to social media to pay tribute, including her “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Ed Asner and “Young Frankenstein” director Mel Brooks.
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) January 27, 2021
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
— John Stamos (@JohnStamos) January 27, 2021
Damn it Phylis! Cloris Leachman could do ANYTHING & was always game. Also, when on Facts of Life, she was the 1st person I saw INSIST on a healthy craft service table. Hence her long life of vitality. Thank you for the laughs.💔 pic.twitter.com/3VAfopEi8a
— Dana Delany (@DanaDelany) January 27, 2021
— Al Jean (@AlJean) January 27, 2021
Cloris Leachman has passed. The Oscar and Emmy-winning funny lady stole her way into our hearts and always left us smiling. She was 94.
Rest in peace, and save a laugh for us when we get there.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 27, 2021
— Lea Thompson (@LeaKThompson) January 27, 2021
Very sad to find out we lost an absolute legend today, Cloris Leachman. I can’t squeeze into a tweet all the fun times I had with this woman and how much I loved her so I’ll just say she’ll be extremely missed. She was the definition of one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/xmOCTHYeBh
— Greg Garcia (@whoisgreggarcia) January 27, 2021
RIP Cloris Leachman. Such a gifted & bold actress. From her brilliant & tender performance in The Last Picture Show, while playing high strung Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show I became a lifelong fan. My thoughts are with her family & friends.
— Marg Helgenberger (@MargHelgen) January 27, 2021
I am terribly sorry to hear of Cloris Leachman’s passing. She was very kind to me when we worked together. And hilarious and gregarious and as wonderful as you would imagine.
— Annette O'Toole (@creamofwool) January 27, 2021
To a legendary actress who has gifted the world with endless laughs, we honor you Cloris Leachman today and always. pic.twitter.com/bpM0jk7Gpt
— WWHL (@BravoWWHL) January 27, 2021
Rest in peace Cloris Leachman you will always inhabit my sense of humour. Thank you
— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) January 27, 2021
As a guest star on The Muppet Show, Cloris Leachman kept the show going despite an invasion of pigs and in The Muppet Movie she opened the door to our standard rich and famous contract. A legend and a great friend. Cloris, we will never forget you.
— The Muppets (@TheMuppets) January 27, 2021
— Gates McFadden (@gates_mcfadden) January 27, 2021
Rest In Peace Beautiful Cloris ❤️#ClorisLeachman I became a fan of yours the first time I saw you on tv. And then years later I was lucky enough to work with you and I fell in love with who you are as a person. I will never forget our talks and the time we shared. I love you.
— Maureen McCormick (@MoMcCormick7) January 27, 2021
Cloris Leachman was a comedy legend. From a groundbreaking role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" to the films of Mel Brooks and her Oscar-winning turn in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show," she never lost her ability to shock, delight and surprise us. She will be missed. pic.twitter.com/tcyfF1uzWj
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 27, 2021