Actress Dame Angela Lansbury dies at 96

British-born actress was best known for her role as novelist-turned-sleuth Jessica Fletcher on American TV show Murder, She Wrote

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Dame Angela Lansbury, the British-born actress whose 80-year career included dozens of unforgettable roles in movies, plays and television, died at age 96, her family said on Tuesday.

Lansbury, a five-time Tony Award winner and three-time Oscar nominee, cracked 12 seasons' worth of crimes as novelist Jessica Fletcher, an amateur sleuth on the television series Murder, She Wrote — a role that garnered her Emmy nominations every year, though she never won.

The Sunday night series ran from 1984-96 and begat four TV movies. It was a ratings hit and followed America’s most popular news show 60 Minutes, with both programmes attracting intellectual, more mature viewers.

“Nobody in this town watches Murder, She Wrote,” Lansbury, referring to the TV industry, said in 1991. “Only the public watches.”

Lansbury was also one of the few women in television history to star in her own series.

She was five days’ shy of her 97th birthday upon her death, according to IMDb.

Born in Regent’s Park in London, Lansbury received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her very first film role as a young maid in the 1944 film Gaslight. She later received two more nominations in the same category.

She was given an honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2013 for her career as “an entertainment icon who has created some of cinema’s most memorable characters, inspiring generations of actors”.

She won Grammys for Broadway performances in Mame and Sweeney Todd and also starred in major films such as The Manchurian Candidate and Death on the Nile, and played Elvis Presley’s mother in Blue Hawaii.

Younger audiences know Lansbury as Mrs Potts, mother of the mischievous Chip in Disney’s animated hit Beauty and the Beast. What they may not know is that Lansbury suggested that someone else sing the Oscar-winning title song. Directors finally convinced her to do the vocals, which she did in one take.

She was married briefly to British actor Richard Cromwell and then to actor Peter Shaw for 54 years. They had two children.

Lansbury, who was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, died in Los Angeles, California, where she spent the majority of her life.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 9:27 PM
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