5 Estelle Harris
Estelle Harris might not be a household name, but her voice is known far and wide. Most famously portraying George Costanza’s shrill mother on “Seinfeld,” Estelle was perpetually screaming at George, his father, or whoever was in her warpath. She took part in some of the shows most memorable moments, like when she was “stopped short” on by Kramer, or when a doll that looked exactly like her haunted George. Estelle has also done an unbelievable amount of voiceover work, most notably as Mrs. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” films, and also popping up in “Futurama,” “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Looney Tunes Show.”
4 Ellen Albertini Dow
She’s that little old lady you feel like you’ve seen in everything, and somehow never seems to age. Long after she’s gone, Ellen Albertini Dow will be remembered as Rosie, the sweet, frail little woman who busted out “Rapper’s Delight” with pinpoint precision in “The Wedding Singer.” She has also guest-starred on seemingly every sitcom, including “Seinfeld,” “Will and Grace,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Yes Dear,” “Scrubs,” “Six Feet Under,” and “My Name is Earl.” And if she’s still not ringing a bell, you can’t have forgotten that she was Mary Cleary in “Wedding Crashers,” the straight-talking grandma who questioned the sexuality of not only her own grandson, but also former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
3 Doris Roberts
Whether you were a fan of “Everybody Loves Raymond” or not, you probably saw a few episodes here and there. So you know just how much of the smash hit show’s comedy came from Ray’s relationship with his mother. Playing the passive aggressive mother-in-law to perfection, Doris Roberts’ turn as Marie Barone is one of the most recognized in recent TV history. She’s also made her mark in the movies, playing (you guessed it) the passive aggressive mother-in-law to Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation,” and in perhaps her funniest but most underappreciated single performance, the accidental weed-smoking, video-gaming grandmother in “Grandma’s Boy.”
2 Betty White
Betty White is the all-time master of being “sweet old lady” funny. Everything she says is dripping with innocence and encouragement, even when what she’s really saying is cutting and brutal. Largely unseen since playing the lovable but dopey Rose Nylund on the “Golden Girls,” Betty’s career has suddenly taken off again in the past few years, thanks to a hilarious turn in “The Proposal” and a fan campaign that led to her hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Now on “Hot in Cleveland” (which is evidently a hit on some network) and running her own prank show on NBC, Betty White is going strong as ever at age 91!
1 Cloris Leachman
Plain and simple, this is the funniest old woman on the planet. Yes it’s true, she wasn’t one of the “Golden Girls” who suddenly had a massive career resurgence, but Cloris Leachman is legitimately “crack you up” funny. Since 2000 she has starred as everyone and anyone’s grandmother, playing the perpetually smoking and brutally honest grandma Ida on “Malcolm in the Middle,” the wonderfully loving but possible former hooker Great Gam Gam in “Beerfest,” and the marginally insane and way-too-revealing Maw Maw in “Raising Hope,” and she has absolutely killed it in every role.