Angela Lansbury, ‘Murder She Wrote’ star, dies at 96 – Quora
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Angela Lansbury, ‘Murder She Wrote’ star, dies at 96 – Quora
On December 16, 2014, Angela Lansbury posed for a picture in Los Angeles at “Blithe Spirit” press day.
Casey Curry/Invision/AP, File, Photo
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The scene-stealing British performer Angela Lansbury, who kicked up her heels in the Broadway musicals “Mame” and “Gypsy,” has passed away. In the long-running TV series “Murder, She Wrote,” Lansbury played crime novelist Jessica Fletcher, who solves numerous crimes. She was 96.
According to a statement from her three children, Lansbury passed away on Tuesday at her home in Los Angeles. She passed away five days before turning 97.
For her Broadway performances, Lansbury received five Tony Awards as well as a lifetime achievement honour. She received supporting actress nominations for two of her first three movies, Gaslight (1945) and The Picture of Dorian Grey (1946), and was nominated once again in 1962 for “The Manchurian Candidate,” for which she played a lethal Communist operative and the mother of the titular character.
Producers chose to cast her considerably older than her true age because of her composed demeanour. When she was 23 years old and appearing in “State of the Union,” her hair was streaked with grey so she could portray a newspaper editor who was in her forties yet had a thing for Spencer Tracy.
In her middle years, she rose to fame as New York theatre’s smash hit, winning Tony Awards for “Mame” (1966), “Dear World” (1969), “Gypsy” (1975), and “Sweeney Todd” (1976). (1979).
In Terrence McNally’s “Deuce,” in which she played a scrappy, brazen former tennis great who reflects with another former star while watching a contemporary match from the stands, she was back on Broadway and received another Tony nomination in 2007. She earned her fifth Tony in 2009 for her performance in the Noel Coward revival of “Blithe Spirit,” for which she also won an Olivier Award in 2015.
On December 2, 1966, during the 29th Ziegfeld Charity Ball, Ginger Rogers, star of the Broadway musical “Hello, Dolly,” bestows the Miss Ziegfeld 1967 crown upon Angela Lansbury, star of the film “Mame.”
The stars of Broadway paid their tributes. “She was an icon, a legend, a gem, and about the nicest lady you’d ever want to meet,” tweeted Audra McDonald. “Dame Angela was extremely lovely to me when I made my Broadway debut,” Leslie Uggams posted on Twitter. She played a major role in integrating me into the neighbourhood. She really did live a full life!
However, Lansbury achieved her greatest level of celebrity in 1984 when she debuted “Murder, She Wrote” on CBS. The series was centred on Jessica Fletcher, a middle-aged widow and former substitute teacher who lived in the seaside community of Cabot Cove, Maine, and was partly based on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple tales. She had become well-known for her mystery novels and work as a home detective.
The actress found the first season of the show to be draining.
I was surprised to learn that I had to work 12 to 15 hours a day, nonstop, every day, she recounted. “Look, I can’t do these shows in seven days; it will have to be eight days,” I had to declare at one point.
Particularly because “Murder, She Wrote” had become a Sunday night hit, CBS and the production firm, Universal Studio, concurred. Lansbury kept up a steady pace despite the long days—she left her Brentwood, West Los Angeles, home at 6 a.m. and didn’t get back until after dark. She was happy that older ladies might look up to Jessica Fletcher as an example.
She noted that it has never been easy for women to serve as role models for other women in the entertainment industry. They have long been seen as having glamorous careers.
Jessica donned outfits in the first season of the show that were practically frumpy. Then Jessica developed intelligence, as Lansbury reasoned that a successful woman should dress accordingly.
Through its eleventh season, “Murder, She Wrote” continued to receive good ratings. Then CBS moved the series to a less appealing midweek time period in an effort to attract a younger audience for Sunday night. Lansbury vehemently objected, but to no avail. The ratings collapsed as predicted, and the programme was discontinued. CBS made two-hour movies of “Murder, She Wrote” and other specials starring Lansbury as consolation.
She received 18 Emmy nominations for “Murder, She Wrote” and other television projects, but she was never awarded one. She has received the most Emmy nominations for lead actress in a drama series and the most Golden Globe nominations overall. She also holds the record for both categories.
Despite not wanting to play “old, decrepit women,” Lansbury remarked in an interview with the Associated Press from 2008 that she would still accept the right screenplay. “I want women my age to be portrayed as the active, contributing members of society that they are.”
“I’m amazed at how much I was able to accomplish in the years I spent working in this industry. I’m still here, too!
On October 16, 1925, she was born in London, where she was given the name Angela Brigid Lansbury. Her father owned a veneer factory, her mother was a successful actor named Moyna MacGill, and her grandpa was the fiery leader of the Labour Party.
Lansbury recalled her childhood: “I was incredibly bashful, completely unable to break out of my shell.” It took me a long time to recover from that,
The star of the newest Broadway musical “Mame,” Angela Lansbury, makes an appearance at a reception on May 24, 1966, in New York, following the show’s debut.
The family survived for a while on money her mother had saved from her acting profession after the Depression put her father’s factory into bankruptcy. When Angela’s adored father passed away in 1935, she was dealt a devastating blow. The tragedy made her independent and “almost a surrogate spouse to my mum,” according to her mother.
In 1940, when German bombers threatened England, Moyna Lansbury battled bureaucracy to secure her family’s passage to America. They relocated to New York with assistance from two sponsoring families, where they made a $150/month living. Angela, who was 16 at the time, was hired to perform songs and impersonations in a nightclub in Montreal to supplement their income.
She added, “The one thing I’ve ever been confident in is my ability to perform.” The thing that has unquestionably supported me through thick and thin has been the grace note in my life’s sonata.
In an effort to obtain acting jobs, Moyna relocated the family to Hollywood. If not, she and Angela would sell apparel and wrap goods at a department shop. The character of Sybil Vane in “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which was being developed at MGM, was suggested by an actor acquaintance as being perfect for Angela. Louis B. Mayer, the head of the studio, commanded: “Sign that girl!” after she tried.
She received an Oscar nomination for her first movie, “Gaslight,” when she was just 19 years old, but MGM wasn’t sure what to do with the new contract actor. She portrayed Queen Anne in “The Three Musketeers,” Judy Garland’s adversary in “The Harvey Girls,” Walter Pidgeon’s bitter wife in “If Winter Comes,” and Elizabeth Taylor’s older sister in “National Velvet.”
She quit her job at MGM to pursue a freelance career because she was sick of playing characters twice her age, but the outcomes were largely the same: she played the mother of Warren Beatty in “All Fall Down,” Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii,” Carroll Baker in “Harlow,” and Laurence Harvey in “The Manchurian Candidate,” where she memorably manipulates her son and aids in starting a killing spree.
Richard Cromwell, a soulful young star of the 1930s, and Angela Lansbury were married for nine miserable months in the middle of the 1940s. In 1949, she wed Peter Shaw, a British man who had been employed by MGM as an actor and later rose to the position of studio executive and agent. He took over as Lansbury’s manager. He had a son named David from a previous marriage in addition to their two children, Peter and Deirdre.
The Shaws experienced difficulties during the 1950s. Angela’s profession slowed down, her mother passed away after a fight with cancer, Peter had hip surgery, the kids started using drugs, and the family’s Malibu home burned down.
Later, Lansbury compared the fire to cutting off a large, juicy branch of one’s life and sealing it with sealant to prevent bleeding. The human mind approaches certain issues in that manner. You must continue after picking up the pieces.
20 years of typecasting had worn Lansbury down, so she tried her luck on Broadway. “Anyone Can Whistle” and “Hotel Paradiso” (with Bert Lahr) were the failures of her first two productions.
Then “Mame” appeared. Rosalind Russell turned down the opportunity to reprise her iconic performance as Patrick Dennis’s queasy aunt in a musical adaptation. Ethel Merman and Mary Martin both concurred. Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Beatrice Lillie, and Judy Garland were other candidates. Jerry Herman, the composer, chose Lansbury.
The May 24 opening caused a buzz. The wrinkled, plump old harridan from the movies with a snakepit for a mouth was described by one critic as “the movies’ liveliest dame to kick up her heels since Carol Channing in ‘Hello, Dolly.’”
Lansbury went back to Hollywood after her success with “Sweeney Todd” to try her hand at television. A sitcom starring Charles Durning or “Murder, She Wrote” was presented to her. Jean Stapleton had been requested by the producers but declined. Lansbury agreed.
She was able to host Emmy and Tony award-winning shows while the series ran for a long time, star in TV movies, and even provide her voice to a Disney animated film. She sang the title song and portrayed Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast.” With regard to her growing fan base, she commented, “This was really a milestone for me.” It helped me connect with a generation that I might not have otherwise met.
In order to assist her spouse in recovering from heart surgery, Lansbury pulled out of the 2000 Broadway production of “The Visit.” She wrote to the producers, “The kind of devotion required of an artist carrying a multimillion-dollar production has to be 100%.”
In 2012, she returned to Broadway in a production of “The Best Man,” co-starring on stage with Kerry Butler, James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, and Candice Bergen. She most recently appeared alongside Jim Carrey in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and Emma Thompson’s “Nanny McPhee.”
Her “Sweeney Todd” co-star Len Cariou accepted the lifetime Tony award presented to Lansbury at the 2022 Tony Awards. There is no one I’d like to manage a ruthless business with, Cariou declared.
In 1990, Lansbury reflected, “I have occasionally pulled back from my career. to what Home. Work and home life balance each other out.
She is survived by her three children, Anthony, Deirdre, and David, as well as her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury, and three grandkids, Peter, Katherine, and Ian.
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