Cloris Leachman to receive inaugural Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award04-20-2011 08:00 am
For her impressive body of work — including winning more Emmy awards than any other female performer in the history of the television awards — Cloris Leachman has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award.
She’ll be on hand in Norfolk during the 2011 Viaero Great American Comedy Festival to receive the honor on Saturday, June 18, at the Johnny Carson Theatre.
Eddie Brill, who is the festival’s producer and the comedy talent coordinator for David Letterman, said, “I am so excited that Miss Leachman will be in Norfolk this year. I am a huge fan of hers and her great body of work.”
In addition to winning more primetime Emmys than any other woman, she also has a daytime Emmy and an Academy Award on her mantle, Brill said.
“She is a true legend and she is still getting it done,” he added.
Born April 30, 1926, in Des Moines and a graduate of high school there, Leachman has made her mark in television and movies for decades.
She has won eight primetime Emmy Awards and one daytime Emmy Award. She also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1971 movie, “The Last Picture Show.”
She is perhaps best known for playing the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s “Mary Tyler Moore” television series and later on the spin-off series titled “Phyllis.”
She also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, including “Young Frankenstein” as Frau Blucher and “High Anxiety.”
More recently, she was featured in a recurring role in the “Malcolm in the Middle” television series and she currently stars in the new FOX comedy series “Raising Hope,” where she plays the wacky grandmother “Maw Maw.”
But there’s more to Leachman than just her acting.
In 2008, she was a contestant on the seventh season of “Dancing with the Stars” and paired with professional dancer Corky Ballas. At the age of 82 at the time, she was the oldest contestant to dance on the series and remained in contention until the sixth round.
Leachman was the grand marshal for the 2009 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, Calif. She also released her autobiography in March 2010.
As recently as 2009, she completed work on eight movies, including “Inglourious Basters” with Brad Pitt, while also guest starring on several television comedies, including “The Office.”
Leachman also made several guest appearances on “The Tonight Show” while Carson served as its host.
Since its inception in 2008, the comedy festival has honored an individual each year with its Comedy Legend award. Previous recipients have been Dick Cavett, Bill Dana and Ed Asner.
This year, representatives of the John Carson Foundation granted the festival permission to rename the award the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award. It is one of only two awards in existence today that bear the Carson name.
The redesigned award — made by the same Chicago company that designs the Oscar statues — will be presented to Leachman at this year’s festival during the same performance where Louie Anderson will serve as headliner and the finals of the festival’s comedy competition will take place.
“We’re thrilled to have Cloris as this year’s award recipient. It just caps what is lining up to be a very special time at this year’s comedy festival,” said Lori Williams, festival vice chairwoman.