Angela Lansbury, the scene-stealing British actor who dug her heels for the Broadway productions “Mame” along with “Gypsy” and solved countless murders as crime writer Jessica Fletcher in the long-running TV show “Murder She Wrote” died. She was 96.
Lansbury died on Tuesday in her residence at the end of her life in Los Angeles, according to the statement from the three kids she raised. She passed away just five days shy of her birthday on the 97th.
Lansbury was awarded the award for five Tony Awards for her Broadway performances, as well as an award for lifetime achievement. She received Academy Award nominations as supporting actress in two of her three debut movies, “Gaslight” (1945) and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1946) and was again nominated in the year 1962, for “The Manchurian Candidate” as well as her terrifying portrayal of an infamous Communist agent as well as the title character’s mother.
Her mature manner of speaking led producers to cast her earlier than she actually was. In 1948, at the age of 23 years old, the hair of her was dusted gray, so that she could portray an unidentified forty-something newspaper editor and a yen-sized Spencer Tracy in “State of the Union.”
Her fame began in her middle years when she became a star at theaters in New York theater, winning Tony Awards for “Mame” (1966), “Dear World” (1969), “Gypsy” (1975) and “Sweeney Todd” (1979).
She returned to Broadway and received a second Tony nomination for 2007 for Terrence McNally’s “Deuce,” playing a ex-tennis actor, who is reflecting on her ex-star while watching an upcoming tennis match from the stands. In 2009, she won her fifth Tony award for the most outstanding actress in the revival of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” and in 2015 , she won her an Olivier Award in the role.
Broadway stars paid tribute to the legendary actress. Audra McDonald posted on Twitter: “She was an icon legendary as well as a treasure, and probably the most lovely woman you’ll ever get to know.” Leslie Uggams on Twitter posted: “Dame Angela was so lovely to me after it came time to make my Broadway debut. She was an integral person in welcoming me into the theater community. She truly lived lived and lived!”
The most acclaim for Lansbury’s work began in 1984, when she debuted “Murder She wrote” at CBS. It was loosely based on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories, the series focused upon Jessica Fletcher, a middle-aged widow and former substitute teacher in the seaside community in Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica Fletcher had made headlines as a mystery writer and amateur detective.
The actor felt that the initial season of the show exhausting.
“I was stunned when I found out that I was required to work between 12 and 15 hours per every day, unrelentingly, day in and in, day out” the actress recalled. “I had to break the law once and say , ‘Look I’m not able to do the shows within seven days. it’s going to take eight days. ‘”
CBS along with the producer company Universal Studio, agreed with Universal Studio, particularly because “Murder, She wrote” was the most watched Sunday night show. In spite of the long hoursshe left her house in Brentwood at West Los Angeles at 6 a.m. and returned shortly after darkness — and with reams of dialogue to remember, Lansbury maintained a steady pace. She was thrilled with the fact that Jessica Fletcher served as an source of inspiration for women who were older.
“Women who work in motion picture productions have had a hard to be model for ladies,” she observed. “They’ve always been seen as beautiful in their work.”
In the show’s initial season Jessica was dressed in clothes that were a bit sexy. She then grew smarter, Lansbury reasoning that, as a woman who is successful, Jessica should dress the part.
“Murder Then She wrote” continued to be a top show in ratings throughout its 11th season. Then CBS looking to attract an audience that was younger for Sunday night, moved the show to a more unpopular midweek time slot. Lansbury protested strongly, but however to no avail. Likely, the ratings dropped which led to the series being cancelled. As a consolation prize, CBS contracted for two-hour films of “Murder She wrote” as well as other specials featuring Lansbury.
“Murder She wrote” as well as other television shows earned her 18 Emmy nominations but she has never was awarded one. The record she holds is having the largest number of Golden Globe nominations and wins the award for most outstanding actress in a drama and for one of the highest Emmy nominations for lead actresses in a drama.
In an interview in 2008 Associated Press interview, Lansbury admitted that she would still be open to the script, but was not interested in playing “old old, decrepit women” she stated. “I would like women my age to be seen as that they already are as essential as productive, active members of our society.”
“I’m amazed at how much I was able to put in the time I’ve been in business. It’s still me!”
The name she was given was Angela Brigid Lansbury when she was born in London on October. 16 25th, 1925. Her family was well-known: a grandfather who was the fiery head of the Labour Party; her father was the proprietor of a veneer manufacturing plant and her mother, a highly well-known actress, Moyna MacGill.
“I was extremely shy and totally incapable of coming to terms with my shyness” Lansbury remembered of her young age. “It took me a long time to overcome the fact that I was shy.”
The Great Depression drove the father’s business to go under and for several years, the family was able to survive on the funds her mother had earned from her acting career. Angela was struck with a devastating loss when her father died in the year 1935. The incident forced her to become self-sufficient and to become “almost the surrogate husband of my mom.”
When England was in danger of German attacks in 1940 Moyna Lansbury fought through bureaucratic red tape to secure passage into America to her loved ones. With the assistance of two families that sponsored them They settled in New York and lived on $150 per month. To supplement their income, Angela at 16 landed the job of a nightclub in Montreal performing impersonations and singing.
“The only thing I’ve ever believed in was my ability to do what I am able to,” she said. “That is the highlight of my life’s sonatas which has remained with my through the thick and thin.”
Moyna moved her family to Hollywood in hopes of finding acting opportunities. In the end her as well Angela packed packages for sale and also sold clothes at an outlet store. A friend of the actor suggested Angela was the perfect choice to play Sybil Vane from “The The Picture of Dorian Grey,” that was in the process of being made at MGM. She was tested and studio director Louis B. Mayer ordered: “Sign that girl!”
She was only 19 when her first movie, “Gaslight,” earned her an Oscar nomination however MGM did not know how to handle the newly signed contract actress. She portrayed her older sister, Elizabeth Taylor’s in “National Velvet,”” Judy Garland’s antagonist in “The Harvey Girls,”” Walter Pidgeon’s grumpy husband as Walter Pidgeon’s wife in “If winter comes” and as Queen Anne In “The Three Musketeers.”
Dissatisfied with performing roles she was twice her age, she quit MGM to pursue a freelance career, however the outcomes were identical as she was the mom of Warren Beatty in “All Fall Down,”” of Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii,” of Carroll Baker in “Harlow,” and of Laurence Harvey in “The Manchurian Candidate,” in which she manipulates her son in a way that she will never forget and aids in launching an infamous killing streak.
In the late 1940s, Lansbury had a disastrous nine-month affair with Richard Cromwell, a soulful young star from the 1930s. She was married in 1949. was married Peter Shaw, a Briton who was under an acting contract with MGM and later became an agent and studio executive. He was Lansbury’s manager. They had two kids, Peter and Deirdre and he also had one son David through an earlier marriage.
In the 1950s, it was a difficult period when it came to the Shaws. Angela’s career was slowed and her mother passed away after an illness; Peter underwent a hip operation. The children were taking prescription drugs; the house of the family in Malibu went up in flames.
Lansbury later spoke of the incident: “It’s like cutting off an entire branch, a huge beautiful, lush branch of your life, and sealing it off using the help of a sealer to ensure that it doesn’t leak, that’s the way you deal with it. The human brain manages these things. It is necessary to take the pieces and continue.”
Tired of the 20 years of typecasting Lansbury tried her hand at Broadway. Her first two shows”Anyone Can Whistle” and “Anyone Will Whistle” and “Hotel Paradiso” (with Bert Lahr) were flops.
There was “Mame.” Rosalind Russell decided not to reprise her famous part of Patrick Dennis’s dizzy aunt, in the musical. Also, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman. Others considered: Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Beatrice Lillie, Judy Garland. Music composer Jerry Herman chose Lansbury.
The movie’s opening, on the 24th of May in 1966 was sensational. A critic wondered if “the film’s worn and plump old harridan sporting an open mouth and a snakepit” could prove to be “the most lively dame to get off the shins ever since Carol Channing in ‘Hello, Dolly. ‘”
Following the “Sweeney Todd” victory, Lansbury returned to Hollywood to pursue a television career. The show she was offered included a sitcom starring Charles Durning or “Murder, She wrote.” Production companies in mind Jean Stapleton, who declined. Lansbury was willing to accept.
In the course of the show’s duration, she managed to appear in TV films, as well as to be hosts of Emmy as well as Tony shows, and even sing the narration for the voice of a Disney animated film. She portrayed the role of Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast” and sang the theme song. “This was a real breakthrough to me personally,” she said of her new fan base. “It brought me in contact with an audience that I would not have been able to reach.”
The year 2000 was the time that Lansbury pulled out of a scheduled Broadway production “The Visit,”” due to the need to assist her husband in recovering from a heart operation. “The type of commitment that is required for an artist performing an enormous production needs to be completely,” she said in an open letter to producers.
Her husband died in 2003.
She appeared on Broadway in 2012 for the revival of “The Best Man,”” performing on stage with James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, Michael McKean and Kerry Butler. She was also featured as Emma Thompson’s “Nanny McPhee” as well as with Jim Carrey in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”
In 2022’s Tony Awards, Len Cariou as her “Sweeney Todd” co-star was honored with a lifetime Tony award presented to Lansbury. “There isn’t anyone who I’d rather do competitive business,” Cariou said.
In the year 1990, Lansbury philosophized: “I have often withdrawn from my work. What? Home. Home is the antithesis to the task.”
Alongside her children Anthony, Deirdre and David She is also loved by 3 grandchildren: Peter, Katherine and Ian and five great-grandchildren as well as her older brother the producer Edgar Lansbury.