Born on July 23, 1945 in Kansas City, Missouri, Edie McClurg began her performing career at age five with the oxymoronic Kansas City Rhythm Kids. She retired when the dance teacher was arrested on a morals charge for “dating” the tall and lissome, yet underage, star dancer in the troupe. That girl’s big number culminated with a back-bend where Edie drank a soda upside down (of course).
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Education and a Master of Science degree from Syracuse University and taught radio at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for eight years. There she re-entered the entertainment field as a DJ, newswoman and producer for the NPR affiliate KCUR-FM. Her proudest moment was portraying John Ehrlichman in Conversation 26 of the NPR national broadcast of the Nixon Tape Transcripts. Thus did Edie contribute to the peaceful overthrow of the government of an unindicted co-conspirator.
Her career-long devotion to satirical improvisation included an impressive tenure with The Groundlings. She went on to create original characters, performed on the short-lived talk show The David Letterman Show (1980): Mrs. Marv Mendenhall, Dot Duncan, Whirly June Pickens, Officer Jeanelle Archer, 105-year-old Edie, etc. Television has been a home to many of Edie’s characters — on The Richard Pryor Show (1977); as Lucille Tarlek, wife of mega-obnoxious advertising salesman Herb Tarlek on WKRP in Cincinnati (1978); and as Mrs. Poole on Valerie (1986).
Her movie career growth paralleled her ten years with The Groundlings. Her first film was Brian De Palma’s teen horror classic Carrie (1976). She did several John Hughes films, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), She’s Having a Baby (1988) and Curly Sue (1991). Offbeat cult favorites are Eating Raoul (1982), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), HBO’s The Pee Wee Herman Show (1981), and Martin Mull’s The History of White People in America (1985).
In more mainstream films, she received a National Media Award for her portrayal of a mentally disabled woman in Bill: On His Own (1983), starring Mickey Rooney. She has acted for Robert Redford in A River Runs Through It (1992), for Oliver Stone in Natural Born Killers (1994), for Diane Keaton in Hanging Up (2000), and she was named Best Actress of the Chicago Alternative Film Festival for her portrayal of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s mother.
Edie’s most recent accomplishments: the nosy lady on Fat Actress (2005), David Spade’s nasty neighbor in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), Dana Carvey’s mother in Sony Pictures’ The Master of Disguise (2002), Jane Kaczmarek’s friend on Malcolm in the Middle (2000), guest-starring on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000), NBC’s Providence (1999), WB’s 7th Heaven (1996), Lea Thompson’s mother on Caroline in the City (1995) and several animation roles for television and in features, such as The Little Mermaid (1989), The Rugrats Movie (1998) and as Dr. Flora in A Bug’s Life (1998). She also did the voice of a Midwestern minivan for Pixar’s Cars (2006).
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