The actor Cloris Leachman, who died in January, enjoyed a distinguished seven-decade career that won her Emmys and an Oscar. She performed opposite Paul Newman, Ben Kingsley, and several Muppets. She was in The Facts of Life, Dancing with the Stars, and My Little Pony.
So is it bad if, to me, she’ll always be Frau Blücher?
In Mel Brooks’ meticulously shot and unapologetically lowbrow comedy classic Young Frankenstein, the grandson of Mary Shelley’s megalomaniacal monster-maker Dr. Frankenstein returns to his family’s foreboding property in Transylvania – good square footage, low-maintenance yard, outdated fixtures – and is greeted by the housekeeper, Leachman’s Frau Blücher. Wearing a bun as severe as her demeanor, Blücher emerges throughout the movie as a soother of beasts, a frightener of horses, a stealer of scenes. And lest the movie’s Gothic trappings and James Whale-esque lighting lead you to conclude that Frau Blücher is stuck in the past, just check out how she’s rocking that very 2021 center part. When Leachman passed, Brooks said “Every time I hear a horse whinny I will forever think of Cloris’ unforgettable Frau Blücher.”
I mean, sure, being in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Last Picture Show is a big deal and everything. But me, I’ll always picture Cloris Leachman offering Gene Wilder Ovaltine.
Here’s just a sampling of the Cloris Leachman movies and shows you can watch via the Library.