Cloris Leachman returns Raising Hope in the grandmother role of Maw Maw in the January 29 episode “Modern Wedding” filmed in the style of Modern Family.
This week on Raising Hope in “Modern Wedding”, Jimmy and Sabrina walk down aisle in the style of Modern Family as the past bad blood between Cloris Leachman’s Maw Maw and the presiding Reverend Bob (guest star Jordan) threatens the ceremony. When Maw Maw’s battle with the clergyman boils over, Burt and Virginia scramble to save the ceremony and keep Jimmy and Sabrina in ignorant, matrimonial bliss.
Best known to TV viewers of the 1970s as Phyllis Lindstrom in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and her own spin-off Phyllis, Cloris Leachman has enjoyed the type of career young actresses dream about. That career also includes an Best Supporting Oscar that Leachman won in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show in 1971.
After playing so many great characters over the years, how much of a challenge was it for Cloris Leachman to be different with Maw Maw?
“Well, it was just easy as pie the first year,” admitted Leachman to The Deadbolt ahead of this week’s episode. “The second year, Greg [Garcia] said that that this year you’re not going to have dementia. But I wasn’t comfortable with it. I couldn’t find myself, I really couldn’t. I didn’t know who to be because I was a little too aware and knowledgeable and with it. I still had funny lines, but my character, I didn’t think, was as interesting as the first year. The third year, same thing. Let’s hope we have a fourth year and I find out.”
Although Cloris Leachman continues to enjoy longevity in her career as an actress, Leachman had other plans for herself as a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa.
“When I was 14, I had to make a list of what I’d like to be in school,” added Cloris about her dreams as a young girl. “I had been taking piano lessons with Andy Williams’ aunt, Cornelia Williams Hurlbut, and I loved her with all of my heart. I did a game show once and even won a piano for her. I gave it to her and it was my great happiness. I loved playing piano. So, I decided I was going to be a concert pianist. But I decided I couldn’t do that because I was definitely going to have children and they wouldn’t let me play. And that’s really true, too.”
Looking back now on a career that includes an Academy Award, a record-setting eight primetime Emmy Awards, one daytime Emmy, three Golden Globe nominations, and more, it’s hard to imagine Cloris Leachman in any other professions beyond film, television, and the stage.
Aside from her dreams to be a concert pianist, however, Cloris Leachman had other alternate career plans.
“Or a social worker,” added Leachman about other jobs she envisioned for herself. “But I do that in my job anyway. I’m always rubbing people’s backs or telling them what to eat or taking cigarettes out of their mouths.”
Although fans now know Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw on Raising Hope, the feisty spark-plug of an actress had several realistic back-up plans if acting fell through.
“I was going to be an architect,” added Leachman about other career possibilities beyond acting, “or marry an architect. In my day when I was young, women weren’t architects. But I’ve done architecture in every home I’ve been in, so it’s sort of a hobby.”
Raising Hope and “Modern Wedding” airs Tuesday, January 29 at 8/7c on Fox.