Cloris Leachman as Young Frankenstein’s housekeeper: Frau Blücher’s name itself struck a note of terror
❚ EVERY MEL BROOKS FAN knows the face of Cloris Leachman from her outrageous characters, the Transylvanian housekeeper Frau Blücher and dominatrix nurse Charlotte Diesel, so vividly associated with the director’s wild film parodies Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety in the mid-Seventies. Mere mention of stern Frau Blücher’s name caused whinnying horses to rear in fear, and only slowly does Dr “Fronkensteen” Junior work out who she is. “So you and Victor were. . . ?” he asks. “Yes, yes,” she replies. “He vas my… boyfriend.” Later in the Hitchcockian spoof set in an Institute for the Very, Very Nervous, the demented psycho who pronounced her name “Nursh Deezhel” did finally admit: “Perhaps I’ve been a bit too harsh.”
“Cloris’s genius is that she never plays comedy for laughs. She’s deadly serious” – director Mel Brooks
Leachman the actress died this week aged 94 and her dazzling career also embraced an Oscar-winning supporting role in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, numerous TV residencies from Lassie and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Phyllis to The Beverly Hillbillies, plus cameos in so many TV hits that between 1972 and 2011 she was nominated for 22 Primetime Emmys and won eight. Her twilight years saw her portraying off-beat grandmothers in television and film and competing with celebrities less than half her age on Dancing With the Stars.
Cloris Leachman as the very strict Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety: viewed with Hitchcockian inspiration from beneath a glass coffee table
➢ The Last Picture Show made Leachman a star – Robert Berkvist in the New York Times: “But she may be best remembered for drawing laughs on Mary Tyler Moore, Phyllis and Malcolm in the Middle.”
➢ Star of film and TV who relished the roles of grandmas and grotesques – Ronald Bergan in The Guardian: “She played Mary Tyler Moore’s manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom for which she was best known.”
➢ Winning the Oscar seemed to liberate Cloris Leachman – Obituary in The Times: “I’m at a point where I’m free to go out and have a little fun with my career,” she said in her acceptance speech.
Posted in actors, cinema, Comedy, drama, obituaries, TV
Tagged Cloris Leachman, Frau Blucher, High Anxiety, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mel Brooks, Nurse Diesel, Phyllis, Young Frankenstein
Meeting of two queens on June 4. At Facebook Ivan Antunovic adds this caption… The Queen: Tell me your secret, dear… Grace: Nightclubbing, your majesty, nightclubbing. (Photograph: PA)
❚ IT WAS A MEETING OF TWO QUEENS in their own realms… This isn’t a new photo but it was published yesterday on Grace Jones’s Official Facebook page as if the singer is suddenly chuffed to bits with the moment it captures. Just as chuffed seems to be the expression on the face of one’s monarch as HMQ greets Grace backstage following the star-studded Diamond Jubilee Concert on June 4. The official Facebook caption marks the two-month-old occasion: “It was an honour to play a part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with such an incredible band… two months ago this weekend.”
Between the regal pair, the photo captures the terminally unfunny comedian Rob Brydon giving his impersonation of the nation in shock. Other videos record how his gags died the death on the Jubilee stage, but Grace’s video continues to make compulsive viewing as she twirls a hula-hoop (Why?) while singing Slave To The Rhythm, her biggest hit and title track from her triumphant seventh studio album, produced by Trevor Horn in 1985. Priceless cutaway shots of the royal box as Grace performs might have come straight from the Mel Brooks movie satire, The Producers.
The Jamaican-American singer, supermodel and actress Grace made her home in Britain after settling down with music producer Ivor Guest, 4th Viscount Wimborne. Didn’t she do well?
Grace’s showstopper: This BBC video cutaway to the Royal Box during Grace Jones’s orgasmic act is a dead ringer for the gobsmacked audience watching Springtime for Hitler. How many astonished princesses, archbishops, ex-prime ministers and director-generals can you count?
Grace’s finale: Another cutaway as Grace bids farewell to her audience and becomes confused about the occasion: “We love you! Happy birthday, our Queen.” How many humourless heirs to the throne and bemused princesses royal can you count?
➢ Shapersofthe80s records how this happy breed enjoyed the rainiest Diamond Jubilee Pageant of the year on June 3
Posted in Culture, London, Media, Pop music, TV
Tagged Concert, Diamond Jubilee Concert, Grace Jones, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Mel Brooks, Slave To The Rhythm, Video