Angela Lansbury, Star Of Stage & Screen, Dead At 96

Angela Lansbury, star of stage and screen, has died at the age of 96.
Angela Lansbury (photo: Depositphotos/Jean Nelson)

Angela Lansbury, who found early success in Hollywood, became a bona fide Broadway star in the middle of he career, and then found a new generation of fans on TV as a widowed mystery writer on “Murder, She Wrote,” died on Tuesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 96.

Her death was announced in a statement by her family.

Lansbury’s career spanned seven decades. She scored her first film role as a Cockney servant in the thriller “Gaslight” in 1944. That debut led to an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress and a contract with MGM.

She garnered a second Oscar nod in 1946 for her supporting performance as a dance-hall girl in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

Those were followed by several more big screen appearances including “State of the Union” (1948) with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy; as Elvis Presley’s mother in “Blue Hawaii” (1961); and the sinister mother in “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), which brought her third supporting actress Oscar nomination.

And then came Broadway.

Her Broadway debut in 1957 in Hotel Paradiso garnered excellent reviews. So she soon returned to the Great White Way in 1960 as the alcoholic single mother of a pregnant teenager in A Taste of Honey.

Her turn as a corrupt mayor in the Arthur Laurents-Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle in 1964 was a flop running only 12 previews and 9 performances. But it was clear she had the skills and star power to command a Broadway musical.

She eventually won five Tony Awards beginning with her acclaimed star-making role in Mame in 1966.

In 1969, she scored again as the 75-year-old Countess Aurelia in Jerry Herman’s Dear World. Five years later she returned as the indomitable Mama Rose in a riveting revival of Gypsy in 1974, followed by her wildly off-kilter Mrs. Lovett in Mr. Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd in 1979.

Musicals now her milieu, Hollywood called again in 1991 where she charmed audiences in the Disney animated hit “Beauty and the Beast” as the voice of the talking teapot Mrs. Potts. She performed the title song at the 25th anniversary screening of the film.

Her fifth Tony came in 2009 for her eccentric turn as medium Madame Arcati in the revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. In 2022, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award as well.

Along the way, she starred in 12 seasons of the runaway hit TV series, “Murder She Wrote,” scoring Emmy Award nominations in each year of the show’s run.

Although no Oscar or an Emmy trophy made its way home with the actress, Lansbury was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1997, received an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2013.

One year later, she was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II.

Oh, and then there are the 6 Golden Globe Awards she won beginning in 1945 and picking the last in 1991.

Lansbury is survived by her sons, Anthony and David; her daughter, Deirdre; a brother, Edgar; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

 

(source: New York Times)