Angela Lansbury: Famous stage and screen star who puts family first

Dame Angela Lansbury is perhaps the most talented and successful British actress of her generation with a career spanning eight decades across film, stage and television that has earned her numerous awards. reward.

An extensive production includes more than 50 films – many of which are classics like Gaslight, The Picture Of Dorian Gray and Bedknobs And Broomsticks – and a string of successful Broadway and television hits.

It was the role of female crime-solving author Jessica Fletcher in the hit TV series Murder, She Wrote, which has attracted millions of fans around the world.


Angela Lansbury received her queenship in 2014 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Her popularity during her 12 years on the show from 1984 was so great that she became an executive producer as well as a star.

Her career rise from drama as she entered her 60s also gives life to her film and stage productions.

Dame Angela, born in London on October 16, 1925, left England as an evacuating teenager to become a leading light in Hollywood and Broadway but despite her seemingly unstoppable success, She is essentially a family person.

It was that devotion to family that led both Lansbury and her husband Peter Shaw to temporarily give up successful careers in the 1970s to help their two children overcome drug addiction.


Angela Lansbury with her husband Peter Shaw in 1949 (PA)

Her paternal grandfather was George Lansbury, leader of the Labor Party at the time of her birth, and her father Edgar, also a staunch socialist, was mayor of Poplar in London’s East End.

When war broke out, Dame Angela was evacuated to the United States with her mother, actress Moyna MacGill, a brilliant Irish-born beauty.

In New York, she studied drama and later worked as a shop assistant and in a nightclub giving dramatic performances of Wagnerian singers and comedian Beatrice Lillie.

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They moved to Hollywood, where Moyna hoped to find work in films, but it was her 17-year-old daughter who was discovered by director George Cukor when she went to see a friend do a screen test at MGM studios.

Hollywood mogul Louis B Mayer signed her to a seven-year contract in 1943, and in 1944 Dame Angela appeared in her first role as Charles Boyer’s maidservant in Cukor’s Gaslight, the film earned her an Oscar nomination.

The following year, she played Elizabeth Taylor’s older sister in National Velvet and then received another Oscar nomination the same year for her performance as a music hall singer in The Portrait Of Dorian Grey.

Dame Angela was nothing short of the usual glamorous girl and in her early films she rarely played the female lead who got her man but the filmmakers quickly realized that she was one. class actress.

At one point she seemed to be playing everyone’s mother – Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, Warren Beatty in All Fall Down and Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate even though he was 34 at the time and only two years her junior.


Dame Angela Lansbury (PA)

In 1945, Lansbury married American actor Richard Cromwell, when she was 19 and he was 35. Unknown to her, Cromwell is bisexual and the marriage fell apart after a year, but the two remained friends.

In 1949, she married British-born actor and businessman Peter Shaw, Joan Crawford’s ex-boyfriend. He passed away in 2003.

When Dame Angela’s contract with MGM expires, she sets off for New York and has to start from the bottom of the ladder.

Settling in the city with their two children, she suffered a long separation from Shaw, a stage worker who remained in Hollywood.

Then, in 1966, she became an overnight musical comedy star with her role in Mame alongside Bea Arthur. The Broadway show brought Dame Angela the first of her five Tony Awards.

Three years later, she got a second Tony for Dear World before disaster struck her family.

Both her teenage children were hooked on heroin and the hospital and psychiatric treatment failed. Problems were raised when their Malibu home burned down in 1970.

Dame Angela and Shaw decided to buy a farm on 20 acres of land in Co Cork to bring Anthony and Deirdre and their step brother, David, to a drug-free environment.

The couple put their careers on hold while helping their children overcome addiction and rebuild family unity in Ireland, while Angela didn’t return to work until she felt her children were on the move. recuperate.

In 1972, she starred in two films, including Bedknobs and Broomsticks, made by the same team as Mary Poppins.

After five years, she returned to New York and found herself re-entering the Broadway stage as a gypsy lead, which earned her another Tony Award.

Then, in 1975, she spent time in England, where she appeared as Gertrude in Hamlet with the National Theatre, and in Albee’s play All Over with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Upon her return to Broadway, Angela won more critical acclaim in The King And I and Sweeney Todd, winning yet another Tony Award.

In 1980, she made the film The Mirror Crack’d in which she took on the role of Miss Marple and for the first time since National Velvet co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor.


Actress Angela Lansbury as writer – horror Jessica Fletcher in the TV series ‘Murder She Wrote’ (PA)

The film was a turning point because it alerted TV producers to her possibilities in a new detective series.

At first, Dame Angela was skeptical about taking the role of Jessica Fletcher because it meant moving back to California but with her husband’s encouragement, she joined.

Jessica Fletcher has become a role model for women all over the world – so much so that Dame Angela even put out a fitness, diet and beauty video for older women.

The show proved a positive move for her family, and they moved back to the United States.

In the 1990s, Dame Angela founded her own production company with her husband and sons and almost immediately won a lucrative contract with Disney.

In 2007, at the age of 81, she returned to Broadway for the first time in more than 25 years, in Terrence McNally’s play Deuce, at the Music Box Theatre. She received a Tony nomination in the Lead Actress category for her performance.


Angela Lansbury with her Olivier Award (Ian West/PA)

At the age of 88, Dame Angela, already a CBE, received her glory at Windsor Castle in recognition of her life of acting and philanthropy.

She was three times nominated for an Academy Award and was finally awarded an honorary Oscar in 2013.

In 2002, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by Bafta and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Her return to the West End earned her an Olivier Award in 2015 for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre. Angela Lansbury: Famous stage and screen star who puts family first

Fry Electronics Team

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