Angela Lansbury dies at 96



Angela Lansbury, the big-eyed, scene-stealing British actress who kicked up her heels within the Broadway musicals “Mame” and “Gypsy” and solved limitless murders as crime novelist Jessica Fletcher within the long-running TV sequence “Murder, She Wrote,” has died. She was 96.

Lansbury died Tuesday at her residence in Los Angeles, in accordance with an announcement from her three kids. She died 5 days shy of her 97th birthday.

Lansbury gained 5 Tony Awards for her Broadway performances and a lifetime achievement award. She earned Academy Award nominations as supporting actress for 2 of her first three movies, “Gaslight” (1945) and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1946), and was nominated once more in 1962 for “The Manchurian Candidate” and her lethal portrayal of a Communist agent and the title character’s mom.

Her mature manner prompted producers to solid her a lot older than her precise age. In 1948, when she was 23, her hair was streaked with grey so she may play a fortyish newspaper writer with a yen for Spencer Tracy in “State of the Union.”

Her stardom got here in center age when she turned the hit of the New York theater, profitable Tony Awards for “Mame” (1966), “Dear World” (1969), “Gypsy” (1975) and “Sweeney Todd” (1979).

She was again on Broadway and received one other Tony nomination in 2007 in Terrence McNally’s “Deuce,” enjoying a scrappy, brash former tennis star, reflecting with one other ex-star as she watches a modern-day match from the stands. In 2009 she collected her fifth Tony, for greatest featured actress in a revival of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” and in 2015 gained an Olivier Award within the position.

But Lansbury’s widest fame started in 1984 when she launched “Murder, She Wrote” on CBS. Based loosely on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple tales, the sequence centered on Jessica Fletcher, a middle-aged widow and former substitute college instructor dwelling within the seaside village of Cabot Cove, Maine. She had achieved discover as a thriller novelist and beginner sleuth.

The actress discovered the primary sequence season exhausting.

“I used to be shocked after I realized that needed to work 12-15 hours a day, relentlessly, day in, day trip,” she recalled. “I needed to lay down the regulation at one level and say `Look, I am unable to do these exhibits in seven days; it should be eight days.`”

CBS and the manufacturing firm, Universal Studio, agreed, particularly since “Murder, She Wrote” had grow to be a Sunday night time hit. Despite the lengthy days — she left her residence at Brentwood in West Los Angeles at 6 a.m. and returned after darkish — and reams of dialogue to memorize, Lansbury maintained a gradual tempo. She was happy that Jessica Fletcher served as an inspiration for older girls.

“Women in movement photos have at all times had a troublesome time being position fashions for different girls,” she noticed. “They’ve at all times been thought-about glamorous of their jobs.”

In the sequence’ first season, Jessica wore garments that had been virtually frumpy. Then she acquired smartness, Lansbury reasoning that, as a profitable lady, Jessica ought to costume the half.

“Murder, She Wrote” stayed excessive within the scores via its eleventh yr. Then CBS, looking for a youthful viewers for Sunday night time, shifted the sequence to a much less favorable midweek slot. Lansbury protested vigorously to no avail. As anticipated, the scores plummeted and the present was cancelled. For comfort, CBS contracted for two-hour motion pictures of “Murder, She Wrote” and different specials starring Lansbury.

“Murder, She Wrote” and different tv work introduced her 18 Emmy nominations however she by no means gained one. She holds the report for probably the most Golden Globe nominations and wins for greatest actress in a tv drama sequence and probably the most Emmy nominations for lead actress in a drama sequence.

In a 2008 Associated Press interview, Lansbury mentioned she nonetheless welcomed the precise script however didn’t wish to play “outdated, decrepit girls,” she mentioned. “I would like girls my age to be represented the way in which they’re, which is significant, productive members of society.”

“I’m astonished at the quantity of stuff I managed to pack into the years that I’ve been within the enterprise. And I’m nonetheless right here!”


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