Her mother was a prominent figure on the British stage when Angela Lansbury was born in London, England, in 1925, she was destined to become an actor. Despite the fact that Lansbury is best known for playing Jessica Fletcher in the enduring CBS television series Murder, She Wrote, she also had a successful career in theater and film.
According to a statement from his family, Lansbury passed away on Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 96. No specific cause of death was given.
When Lansbury was a teenager, she played Audrey in a school production of As You Like It, and the acting bug bit her. She admitted to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 2000 that being on stage was enthralling: “I suddenly got the feel and the smell of being able to make an effect by the way I played the role, the way I conducted myself, all of the physical aspects of acting suddenly came to me and I got a laugh, you know, the first time I did it.”
Lansbury and her mother emigrated to the US in 1940, settling in Hollywood two years later, as the Battle of Britain was raging. At the age of 17, she received her first on-screen appearance as the sassy housekeeper Nancy in George Cukor’s Gaslight.
For her role in Gaslight, Lansbury received an Oscar nomination. She went on to star in a number of other movies, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Harvey Girls, frequently portraying older characters than she actually was.
She remarked, “I sort of understood that I was never going to get to play the girl next door, and I was never going to be groomed to be a glamorous movie star, so I had to make peace with myself on that score.
Her portrayal of Laurence Harvey’s malevolent mother in The Manchurian Candidate in 1962 may have been her most enduring Hollywood performance.
According to theatrical historian Laurence Maslon, Lansbury relocated to New York to become a Broadway star and had huge success in Jerry Herman’s Mame in 1966.
To land that role, Angela Lansbury “basically flung herself in front of the bus.” Maslon declares. She was 40 years old in 1966 when she walked down that staircase wearing gold-lamé pajamas, and Broadway welcomed her in a way that it had only done for a select few women in its illustrious history.
Lansbury admitted that she was a little taken aback to discover a true home in musical theater.
She said, “I’m not really a vocalist. I have a passable voice, but how I use it sells the song, not the notes themselves.
When Lansbury played Mama Rose in the 1974 Gypsy revival and the cold-blooded Mrs. Lovett, who turns people into meat pies in Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 classic Sweeney Todd, she did both roles exceptionally well. When preview performances for Sweeney Todd started in New York, she admitted to NPR in 2005 that its success was far from guaranteed.
The blood that was spraying at them from the stage, she recounted, “appalled people.” “They believed Stephen had taken things too far. To cut a long tale short, when the remaining two-thirds of the audience showed up who hadn’t yet seen it, they simply took it to heart and helped us win the Tony that year.”
Lansbury relocated back to Hollywood in the 1980s to appear in the crime drama Murder, She Wrote. After 12 seasons on CBS, Lansbury became well-known as a senior person because to the show. She claimed to be “happily stuck” in the role of Jessica Fletcher, the mystery novelist who solved a murder every week, in an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.
Being Jessica was effortless for Lansbury since she embodied all the characteristics of women I value. She was brave, liberal, athletic, exciting, seductive, and all kinds of other excellent things that women her age aren’t given credit for.
An incredible seven decades made up Lansbury’s acting career. She received a lifetime achievement award in addition to five Tony Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, and a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2000.