LOS ANGELES — Actress Cloris Leachman already holds the record for most Emmys won by an actor, male or female, with a total of nine.
She had a chance to top herself at last week’s Creative Arts Emmy ceremony, set to air tonight on ReelzChannel, for her guest-starring role on “Raising Hope.” Leachman plays the only occasionally lucid Maw Maw on the Fox sitcom, which also earned star Martha Plimpton a nomination for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.
The 85-year-old Leachman has won one Daytime and eight Primetime Emmy awards, but — spoiler alert — she lost out on her 10th trophy to “Glee” guest actress Gwyneth Paltrow in the Creative Arts Emmys.
Still, Leachman’s overall Emmy record remains intact.
“Well, I used to be tied with Sir Laurence Olivier,” she said. “But he was kind enough to die, and then I was able to continue. So I thought that was very, very big of him, especially since he’s English.”
Leachman, whose first credits date back to the late 1940s, is perhaps best known for her work on the ’70s sitcom classic “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She said the Emmys have been cause for a friendly competition between her and her “MTM” costars, fellow multiple winners Moore and Ed Asner.
“I remember Mary saying, ‘You have nine? I thought you had eight.’ ‘No, I have nine,’ ” Leachman noted. “That was kind of a nice moment for me.”
For her first three decades in show business, Leachman was a go-to dramatic character actress, and won an Oscar for her performance in the 1971 classic “The Last Picture Show.” But “Mary Tyler Moore,” as well as appearances in a series of Mel Brooks films, put her on the comedy track, at least in terms of Hollywood casting directors.
“In fact, I do so much comedy, that I wonder what happened to all the other serious roles,” she said. “I’d really like to do a serious role again. I’d also like a bigger role, I mean something that demands more of me. There are lots of things that I haven’t done. And I’d like to be, not tested, but enlightened, you know to see what else I could do.”
As for the secret to her longevity and Emmy success?
“I think acting is partly being a detective, so it’s fun to sort it out and figure it out and see who all the people are and figure out what to do,” she said. “Great fun. I am very, very privileged.”
Note: The Primetime Emmys will air at 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox.