Born October 16, 1925 in Poplar, London England, Angela Brigid Lansbury has been a very successful actress and singer and writer for many decades. She once said “Providing I can put one foot in front of the other I will continue to act”.
Angela’s mother was an Irish born actress Moyna McGill and her father was a politician and timber merchant Edgar Lansbury. Her father died of stomach cancer in 1934. Her mother passed away in 1975.
As a young girl Angela admired Deanna Durbin, a teenaged actress and Irene Dunne, a movie star. Angela’s mother encouraged her interest in acting by taking her to theatrical performances. She attended South Hampstead School for Girls, the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Feagin School of Dramatic Arts.
Shortly before the London Blitz of World War II Angela’s mother and her children came to New York. They were among the families evacuated in the last boatload before the Blitz.
For her first film appearance as a maid in “Gaslight” in 1944 Angela was nominated for an Academy Award.
She went on to successful performances in many films, Broadway musicals and TV shows.
Probably the role most modern day fans remember is Angela’s portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in “Murder She Wrote” This series ran for twelve seasons. After retiring from teaching Jessica became a best-selling author of mystery novels and an amateur sleuth. Each episode developed a crime of some sort. Usually law enforcement went on the wrong track and it fell to Jess and her cohorts to solve the mystery and help the law focus on the right person. Some law enforcement agencies embraced Jess’ help others resented it.
Jessica lived in Cabot Cove Maine. She was always ladylike, charming and willing to help anyone in need. In addition to her many friends, including Sheriff Amos Tucker and Dr. Seth Hazlett, she had a number of cousins. nieces, nephews and in-laws who called on Jess for help. The one who seemed to get into the most trouble was her nephew Grady.
Jessica Fletcher and the cast of “Murder She Wrote” brought much entertainment into our living rooms each week. Angela was nominated almost every year for an Emmy Award for her role, but she never won.
Angela Lansbury took ownership of the show and was the executive producer during its last four years.
Angela Lansbury married American actor Richard Cromwell in 1943. There was a big age difference – he was 35 and she was 19. The marriage ended after about a year, but they remained friends.
She married Peter Shaw a British business man and actor in 1949. They had two children Anthony Peter Shaw and Diedre Angela Show. Angela’s husband helped guide her career. They were married over 50 years until his death in 2003.
For her services to drama she was awarded a CBE, Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994.
Angela Lansbury became a U.S. citizen in 1951.
After the “Murder She Wrote” series ended Angela Lansbury continued to perform in films and on the stage.
She co-hosted the New York Philharmonic’s tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty with Kirk Douglas in 1986.
In 2009 Angela appeared in the Broadway play “Blithe Spirit” and in 2010 in the Broadway musical “A Little Night Music”.
Angela Lansbury has also written and co-authored several books. She has supported several charities.