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SAN DIEGO – Award-winning actress Cloris Leachman will serve as celebrity grand marshal for next month’s San Diego LGBT Pride parade.
Leachman will be joined by global human-rights activist Stuart Milk, founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation named after his late uncle, who pioneered a gay-rights movement more than 30 years ago and was assassinated while serving on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 17, along University Avenue through the heart of Hillcrest. It begins at Normal Street, proceeds west to Sixth Avenue, then south to Upas Street.
Leachman, 84, who was recently a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” (Season 7), rose to fame in 1971, when she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her film performance in “The Last Picture Show.” She soon became loved by television audiences for her role as the nosey, self-centered landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom, on the 1970s TV series, “Mary Tyler Moore” – and later on the spin-off series “Phyllis.”
The actress also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, proving her comedic talents in such films as “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety.” And in recent years, she became popular for her recurring role as Lois’ ruthless mother, Ida, on “Malcolm In The Middle.”
In the past year, the prolific Leachman completed work on seven films, including “American Cowslip,” “Inglourious Basterds” and “New York I Love You.”
Her TV appearances in 2009 include “The Bob Saget Roast,” “Love Takes Wings,” “The Office,” “Phineas and Ferb,” and “HawthoRNe.”
Leachman was recently cast in the new Fox Television drama, “Raising Hope,” due to begin filming in August, and she will soon hit the San Diego stage with "CLORIS! I’m F*ing Eighty-Four: A One-Woman Show.”
Serving as political grand marshal in the parade is Milk, whose first public address as an “out” LGBT activist took place in 1984 at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he was joined by Richard Schmeiken, Academy Award winning producer of “The Times of Harvey Milk.”
Since then, Milk has given major keynote addresses at national and international congresses, public demonstrations, Pride parades and equality summits, giving rise along the way to the stories and lessons of his uncle’s brave political accomplishments.
Last year, Milk accepted on his uncle’s behalf, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and the California Hall of Fame Medal from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Stuart has carried the message of tolerance to subsequent generations worldwide, and we are delighted and honored in welcoming him in the parade and at the rally,” said Larry Ramey, co-chair for San Diego Pride.
Through his continued travels and public appearances, Stuart Milk has followed in the footsteps of Harvey Milk’s legacy in an effort to eliminate minority discrimination inclusive of LGBT prejudice. He has worked alongside LGBT organizations on six continents, as well as with foreign policy leaders and politicians of every stripe in his quest to further the rights of LGBT individuals.
That goal, he believes, will be attained “when equality becomes the norm not only in the U.S., but across the globe.”
San Diego Pride weekend is July 16-18. It kicks off with a Spirit of Stonewall rally at 6 p.m. Friday, July 16, at Marston Point in Balboa Park, followed by the parade on Saturday, July 17, and a two-day festival, Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, also at Marston Point.
For more information about the weekend events, festival entertainment or volunteer opportunities, call (619) 297-7683 or visit www.SanDiegoPride.org.