Star of "Murder She Wrote" Angela Lansbury passes away at age 96

 Star of "Murder She Wrote" Angela Lansbury passes away at age 96.

Star of "Murder She Wrote" Angela Lansbury passes away at age 96

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 endless murders. 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 honor. She received supporting actress nominations for two of her first three movies, Gaslight (1945) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (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 manner. When she was 23 years old and appearing in "State of the Union," her hair was streaked with gray 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 theater'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.

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 neighborhood. 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 centered 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.

It's been challenging for women in movies to serve as role models for other women, she noted. 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 program was discontinued. CBS made two-hour movies of "Murder, She Wrote" and other specials starring Lansbury as consolation.

She received 18 Emmy nominations from "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 of breaking out of my shell." It took me a long time to recover from that,

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.

Mrs. Potts performed the theme song and appeared 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%."

2003 saw her husband's passing.

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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