Leachman's longest running role was the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s TV series Mary Tyler Moore, and later on the spinoff series, Phyllis. She also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, including Young Frankenstein. She had a regular role on the last two seasons of The Facts of Life portraying the character Beverly Ann Stickle. In recent years, she had a recurring role as Lois's mother Ida Gorski on Malcolm in the Middle. She also starred in the roast of Bob Saget in 2008. Leachman was a contestant on Season 7 (2008) of Dancing with the Stars, paired with Corky Ballas. At the age of 82, she is the oldest contestant to have danced on the series. She currently stars as Maw Maw in the television comedy Raising Hope.
As Miss Chicago, Leachman competed in the 20th Miss America pageant and placed in the Top 16 in 1946. Leachman was the grand marshal for the 2009 New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California. She presided over the 120th parade, the theme being "Hats Off to Entertainment", and the 95th Rose Bowl game.