A wonderful lady and a neighbor of ours during my now-ancient youth.
An actress with great range, best remembered for her work in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and, for noiristas, for her stellar opening scene as the doomed Christina in KISS ME DEADLY, where she is way ahead of the curve feminist-wise even as she & Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) are about to get run off the road.
There was a legendary night at the Aero Theatre in 2007 when, unbeknownst to anyone, three of the four principal “babes” from KISS ME DEADLY—Gaby Rogers, Maxine Stewart and Ms. Leachman—were all in the theatre simultaneously for a screening of the film under the auspices of the FNF (sans the presence of Messrs. Muller and Rode). The opportunity of getting these three ladies on stage to discuss the film was, most regrettably, never pursued. Based on the conversation that took place in the Aero lobby that evening, it would have been worth its weight in gold. Ms. Leachman told Gaby Rogers that she looked surprisingly good for having opened that box at the end of the film (and Ms. Rogers, not missing a beat, said that it was a “stunt double”...!!).
Many years earlier, after I’d seen KMD on TV and I happened to see Ms. Leachman at the location where our street clustered the residents’ mailboxes, I told her that I’d just seen the film and how great she’d been in it. She thanked me but noted in her sometimes salty style that it was “the coldest ?!@+*-ing night I’ve ever been on a movie set. So damn COLD! Much of what people like in that performance of mine is my teeth chattering! (Robert) Aldrich was a goddam SADIST!”
Then she paused, and gave me a radiant smile—and went on her way. Godspeed, dear Cloris!