When I heard about the passing of Cloris Leachman, I quickly sent a message to our entertainment producer, Lyndsey, who seemed just as shocked as me.
While you may not be sad yourself or understand why we mourn celebrity deaths, this one particularly struck a chord, because Leachman played one of the most memorable characters in my favourite film growing up, Now and Then.
In 1995, the coming-of-age film starring Christina Ricci, Rosie O’Donnell, Gaby Hoffman, Demi Moore, Thora Birch, Melanie Griffiths, Ashleigh Aston Moore, Rita Wilson and everybody’s crush, Devon Sawa, brought us the story of four 12-year-old girls who grew up together during one eventful small-town summer of 1970.
As a young tween, the film was a staple during sleepovers, where we’d put our hands in the middle of a circle and vow to be friends forever. We learned that we could make our breasts bigger by stuffing them with socks, that you can’t get pregnant by french kissing and that “all women have a garden, and a garden needs a big hose to water it”.
It was a film that was as relevant now as it was back then.
Leachman, in my opinion, stole all of her scenes. She was the crazy grandma of Samantha (Hoffman), who wore a wig, vacuumed with an original vacuum cleaner, gave the girls sour lemonade and hard biccies, and went off in a convertible car with her friends to play bingo. She was truly a dream.
Being so close to my own grandmother, I always loved watching her relationship with her grandchildren and it was made even more poignant by the fact that my family was similar to Samantha’s. I was living with a single mother who had two daughters.
Years later, I re-discovered the energetic actor, when she was cast as Maw Maw in Raising Hope. I loved that show for its core cast, but Leachman’s smoking, drinking and downright nuts grandmother was naturally a stand-out.
According to reports, the actor, who had spent seven decades in the entertainment industry, died of natural causes on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. She was 94.
Not only is it a great innings but she left behind a comedic legacy which also included The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Malcolm in the Middle, roles which scored her a total of eight Emmy awards. However, of course, Leachman will always be Grandma Albertson to me.
Vale Cloris Leachman.