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Last Days? Inside Cloris Leachman's Desperate Race Against The Clock

cloris lechman ailing
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Sep. 26 2016, Updated 10:28 a.m. ET

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Living legend Cloris Leachman remains her feisty self at age 90, but friends worry the Phyllis star is now so weak she's dependent on a wheelchair — and may be running out of time!

On her recent birthday, the feisty Leachman proved she still has her raucous sense of humor by tweeting out the same brazen message written on her cake — "I'm 90 F******' Years Old!" — adding, "How did that happen?"

But friends who see the once vigorous star is a prisoner of her chair fear the end is near. "Cloris is a shadow of her former self," said an insider. "She's become very thin and frail. She always tries to keep a smile on her face but it must be hard sometimes."

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Despite her fading strength and health, Leachman has continued to work, compiling an impressive resume of nearly 300 roles that include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her spin-off Phyllis and Young Frankenstein.

In 2008, at the age of 82, she became the oldest-ever contestant on Dancing with the Stars. She'll appear in the Starz sci-fi adventure American Gods next year, and she recently wrapped a film called The Comedian with Robert De Niro and Danny DeVito, also due out in 2017.

"She believes work is what keeps her alive and kicking," revealed a source.

On Aug. 29, Leachman flew to her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, to speak at her alma mater, Roosevelt High School, inspiring drama club students with her success story.

"She wants to pass along her wisdom, what she's learned along the way, before she's gone," said the source.

Leachman signed autographs for fans as she was wheeled into LAX Airport, but the insider noted, "She used to use a metal walker, but now, Cloris virtually never leaves her wheelchair."

She likes to ride when not working, explaining, "After 90 years on my feet, I prefer to be driven," admitted her representative.

And while Leachman was recently shattered by the death of old friend and co-star Gene Wilder, who died at 83 on Aug. 29, "she tries to remain upbeat and positive, but it isn't always easy," gabs the spy. "Now, you have to wonder if her last days are sadly here."

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