Cloris Leachman Will 'Die First' Before Working With Mel Brooks Again
By Stacy Jenel Smith Posted Jul 13th 2010 08:00PM
Cloris Leachman would like to dispel the notion that there's any bad blood between her and Mel Brooks over her not having been cast as Frau Blucher in the 2007-2009 Broadway version of "Young Frankenstein", the role she immortalized in the classic 1974 black-and-white film.
The actress, who has a record eight Primetime Emmys under her belt , tells PopEater of the alleged rift, "Not at all, ever, ever, ever! We love each other deeply, really, really love each other. Nothing could ever sever it."
"There were three reasons I didn't play the original Frau Blucher on Broadway. One was that one of the producers thought it would be better for the show to have its own life, as completely as possible. Then, also heard that the director, Susan Strohman, had promised it to a close friend of hers. Then, I also heard Mel was afraid I would die on stage," she relates with a throaty laugh, referring to a 2007 quote Brooks gave to Variety columnist Army Archerd.
The unrepentantly uncurbed Oscar winner is not afraid to let us know, "I'm eighty-@$#!ing-four years old." Despite Brooks' reservations, the actress proved to the world that she was not only up for the task, but more vital than ever, starring in seventeen episodes of the seventh season of "Dancing With the Stars", beating out competitors up to sixty years her junior before being eliminated.
These days, Cloris' dance card is still filling up quickly, starting with this Saturday's (7/17) Pride Parade in San Diego. She's serving as Grand Marshal along side Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart, a role filled just last year by Milk's friend and fellow activist, Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
"I've done the ones in Pasadena, San Francisco and now, San Diego. It's terribly fun, funny and lively, very full of excitement," she says. "I'm so happy I can't stand it. My mother would say once in a while, very sweetly, 'Oh, I could just pinch myself!' And I'd say, 'Come on, Mom!' She wasn't like that at all."
In addition to her role in the legendary parade, the actress is keeping busy on screen, having recently completed thriller "The Fields" with Tara Reid, while gearing up for the release of small screen comedy "Raising Hope", written by "My Name is Earl" creator Greg Garcia.
The show, which stars Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt, is set to air on Fox in the fall, and it seems as though the network has high hopes for its success, placing it in the Tuesday night lineup following mega-hit "Glee".
Cloris stars in the series as the not-quite-all-there great grandma who forgets to put on clothes and whose first reaction to her grandson's infant daughter is "Get that dog off my couch!"
"It is hysterically funny. Did you see -- he throws up on the baby..." She breaks up. "And then the mother..." She laughs without stopping, reminiscent of her own description of Gene Wilder during the making of "Young Frankenstein," when she'd see him "helpless with laughter" while doing her lines.
So, despite the lack of bad blood, when asked if there's a chance of her working with Brooks or any of his famous casts again, Leachman quips, "No. No. We're all going to die first."
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