You can’t keep a good woman down. Since the 1950’s actress Cloris Leachman has been demonstrating that no matter what your age or the odds there is always a way to shine. Though in Cloris’ case that shine has always come from the bawdier side of life.
Since the beginning of her career, Cloris has always gained the most attention from the unusual and provocative roles she’s played: Ruth Popper the wife of the gym coach who seduces a student in “The Last Picture Show”; Bitchy, elitist, narcissistic landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”; The evil witch Hydia in “My Little Pony the Movie”; Prissy den mother, Beverly Ann Stickle on “The Facts of Life”; The embittered and greedy, Grandma Ida on “Malcolm in the Middle; and cantankerous alcoholic grandmother, Evelyn in “Spanglish”.
Cloris also gained attention in the mid-1990’s as an organic living activist, going so far as to pose nude with vegetables on the cover of “Alternative Medicine Digest” in 1997. Most recently, Cloris was in the spotlight for her performances on last season’s “Dancing with the Stars”, being both the oldest contestant to date on the show and also the one with the foulest mouth – Cloris’ F-bombs and angry profanity laced diatribes had to be constantly bleeped out by the network censors.
Despite such a colorful professional history, it still came as a shock to me when I read this morning that Cloris is now expanding into the realm of clothing for the mature woman. This is not a novel idea for Hollywood, as Cloris will be joining the ranks of actresses such as Susan Lucci, Jacquelyn Smith, and Delta Burke. Where Cloris will be breaking new ground is that her upcoming clothing line seems to be completely cougar inspired – literally! The few but prominent photos from the upcoming “Cloris Line” collection depict a sea of free flowing animal print organza fabric, perfect for that older woman who wants to go out on the prowl with style. Nothing says “feisty, feline, fifty-something” like leopard print and zebra stripes in “numbers too big to ignore.”
Personally, I’m a big fan of Cloris Leachman, but this new endeavor is stretching it for me. While it isn’t out of line with the persona she has built over the last 60 years, I can’t help but be surprised. I mean honestly, does she REALLY think older American women will go for these fashions? Her trash talking on “Dancing with the Stars” nearly resulted in a complete alienation of the Midwest already. Generally speaking, her target demographic is the grandmother set who are looking for wholesome but fun apparel, not crazy cat lady couture! Cloris is either completely crazy or a marketing genius – time will tell. In the meantime, mother’s better keep your 18+ sons at home for dinner because the Cloris Line is coming!
~ Guy Friday