Legendary “Murder She Wrote” Star Angela Lansbury Dies at 96
Dame Angela Lansbury, known for iconic roles such as Jessica Fletcher in the TV series Murder, She Wrote and the voice of the title song from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, died Tuesday. She was 96.
Lansbury was nominated for an Emmy 18 times, an Oscar three times, and won five Tony Awards. She was also awarded an honorary Oscar in 2013, recognized as “an entertainment icon who has created some of cinema’s most memorable characters, inspiring generations of actors.”
Possibly best known in recent decades from her work in Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury's career dates back to the 1940s.
Born in London, she received a best-supporting actress Oscar nomination as the young maid Nancy in the home of Charles Boyer and his new bride Ingrid Bergman in George Cukor’s Gaslight, which was released in 1944. It was her first film role.
Her career goes on from there.
For her third movie, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), she received another nom for playing the lovely singer whose heart is broken by the hedonistic title character. (Her mother, West End actress Moyna MacGill, played a duchess in the film.)
Lansbury then took a turn toward evil and was rewarded with her final Oscar nom for portraying Laurence Harvey’s manipulative mother in the Cold War classic The Manchurian Candidate (1962). The actress often played characters much older than herself, and in this case, Harvey was just a few years younger than Lansbury.
Her charismatic performance as the eccentric title character in a 1966 production of Mame vaulted her to Broadwaysuperstardom and resulted in the first of her four Tonys for best actress in a musical.
The legendary actress was signed on to Murder, She Wrote in the early 1980s, though she had not thought she'd be interested in a television role. She nonetheless starred in the series from 1984 to 1996.
In 1991, she voiced the character Ms. Potts from Disney's animated hit, Beauty and the Beast. She also sang the title song "Beauty and the Beast" in the film.
Between film, the stage, and television, Lansbury was a decorated actress. In 2014, she was honored by Queen Elizabeth II and made a Dame. After receiving the honor, Lansbury said "I'm joining a marvelous group of women I greatly admire like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. It's a lovely thing to be given that nod of approval by your own country and I really cherish it."