Broadway Legend And “Murder, She Wrote” Star Angela Lansbury Passes Away At The Age Of 96

The actress was most recognized for her role as the fearless mystery author Jessica Fletcher on CBS’ Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury, the London-born actress who brought a strong, ladylike presence to stage, screen, and television for seven decades, most notably as dauntless mystery author Jessica Fletcher on CBS’ Murder, She Wrote for 12 years, has died. She was 96 years old.

“Dame Angela Lansbury’s children are saddened to announce that their mother died quietly in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1:30 a.m. today, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, just five days shy of her 97th birthday,” her family said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“She is survived by three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine, and Ian, as well as five great-grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury,” the statement continues. “Her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw, preceded her in death. A private family ceremony will be arranged at a later date.”

Angela Brigid Lansbury was the daughter of Belfast-born actress Moyna MacGill and her second husband, timber merchant Edgar Lansbury. She was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast and Broadway’s eccentric aunt in the musical Mame. Lansbury described her mother as “a real Irish beauty” in a PEOPLE feature in 1993.

Eager to shape her daughter’s future, Moyna took her to plays at London’s Old Vic and enrolled her in an arts and dance school, until the family — Angela and her younger (by five years) twin brothers, Edgar and Bruce, who both later became successful producers, and a half-sister — found itself all but broke when the senior Edgar died in 1934. Angela was nine years old.

Angela Lansbury

The family’s condition was worse by the war, so the Lansburys relocated to New York in 1940, where Moyna relaunched her acting career and went on tour while Angela looked after her siblings. Moyna, who had relocated her family to Los Angeles and was now working in a department store, assisted her daughter in obtaining a screen test at MGM, which catapulted the 17-year-old into her Oscar-nominated film debut as the cockney maid in the Ingrid Bergman-Charles Boyer classic 1944 thriller Gaslight.

“It was thanks to my mother who saw in me an aptitude to cut up, to make belief, to run around pretending to be someone other than the little girl that I was,” Lansbury said on the Masterpiece Studio podcast in 2018. “It made her understand I was a natural, and bless her heart, she made the decisions for me when I was very, very, very young.”

The next year, Lansbury received another Oscar nomination, this time for her performance as vocalist Sibyl Vane in MGM’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which came on the heels of Lansbury’s appearance as the sister of a very young Elizabeth Taylor in the adored National Velvet.

Even yet, being under contract to the world’s largest Dream Factory did little to increase the teen’s self-esteem, especially with the beautiful Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, and Hedy Lamarr working on adjoining soundstages.

Lansbury tells PEOPLE, “I was a young woman searching for glamour and attention, and I didn’t really receive it.” “So, what exactly did I do? I married at the age of 19.”

The groom was attractive leading man Richard Cromwell, who turned out to be gay, which Lansbury didn’t discover until nine months later when they divorced. “My first truly epic romance. It was a heinous tragedy “She went on to say that they stayed friends until his death from cancer in 1960.

A New Beginning

She met Peter Shaw, a British actor who eventually became a major Hollywood agent, shortly after her divorce. Moyna served as matron of honor for their 1949 wedding in London.

Movie, live TV, and Broadway parts followed, including the role of Elvis Presley’s mother in the 1961 hit Blue Hawaii – despite the fact that Lansbury was just 10 years Elvis’s senior.

Lansbury’s reputation as a character actress as Laurence Harvey’s monster of a mother in 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate (this time, she was just three years older than her screen son) was established, as was her third Oscar nomination.

Four years later, as the toast of Broadway in Mame, she was on the cover of Life magazine and won the first of five Tony awards, a record only matched by Julie Harris and eventually broken in 2014 by Audra McDonald.

Angela Lansbury update

The family came first.

Personal issues — the Shaw children, Anthony (born in 1952) and Deirdre (born in 1953) were both on strong drugs, the parents learned — caused the family to relocate to County Cork, Ireland, in 1971, which Lansbury described as “one of the last locations on earth that were basically drug-free.”

Lansbury rebounded back professionally in 1978 when she created the legendary character of murder accomplice Mrs. Lovett in the operatic Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical Sweeney Todd. She commuted between Ireland, London, and New York for the following decade until the kids were clean.

Aside from winning another Tony, Lansbury’s route was paved for her to play Jessica Fletcher, the character for which she will arguably be most known and surely most loved. Murder, She Wrote premiered in 1984 and continued for 256 episodes, earning Lansbury an astonishing 12 Emmy nominations — but never a win.

When asked to compare his wife to Fletcher, Peter Shaw told PEOPLE, “It’s extremely hard to discern the difference between the two.” (Shaw, 84, passed away in 2003.) “Angela has that wonderful confidence, and it’s one of Jessica’s best qualities.”

Indeed, bravado. Lansbury moved on to other jobs on television and Broadway after solving her last TV crime. Although she was nominated for an Emmy 18 times, she did receive a 1996 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, a 1997 American National Medal of Arts, a 2000 Kennedy Center Honor, and was officially made Dame Angela by Queen Elizabeth in a 2014 ceremony at Windsor Castle — at the time, she was playing the spiritualist Madame Arcati in a London production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

In June, Lansbury received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, her sixth Tony Award altogether.

Between her roles as Mame Dennis in 1966’s Mame and Mrs. Lovett in 1979’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Broadway legend received four Tony Awards. She went on to win a fifth Tony for her performance in 2009’s Blithe Spirit, her first Tony for a performance in a play rather than a musical.

“It’s been an extraordinary life, especially for me,” Lansbury told her peers as she accepted the SAG award. “And the good news is that opportunities for women of all ages exist. Look at some of the incredible work done by women in film today. I’m completely inspired to keep going and pursue new career objectives… After all, a career, in my opinion, is still a work in progress.”

Even at the age of 92, the actress had no intention of slowing down. Lansbury was asked if the PBS miniseries Little Women, in which she worked with director Vanessa Caswell, the first female director she’d worked with in her 80-year career, would be her final act.

“I wouldn’t call it my swan song. It’s not the last time I’ll do something like this. I’m already doing other things, although this has been described as my swan song. But it isn’t the case “Lansbury, who played the Balloon Lady in Mary Poppins Returns in 2018, said

“I know at 92 I should be thinking of swanning out,” she continued, “but I don’t know if you have the energy, excitement, and interest, I don’t think you ever truly stop.”

FAQs

Angela Lansbury is how old, and is she still alive?

Angela Lansbury, the actress, died at the age of 96. The London-born actress took her farewell bow as one of the most decorated stage performers in history. Lansbury received five Tony Awards, the most recent in 2009 for best-featured actress in a play for her performance in Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”

Angela Lansbury died on what date?

Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury DBE (October 16, 1925 – October 11, 2022) was an Irish-British-American actress and vocalist who worked in film, theatre, and television. Her career extended eight decades, much of it in the United States, and her work gained widespread international acclaim.

Angela Lansbury was how old when Murder She Wrote was released?

Lansbury was 58 years old and had raised her children when she earned the most important role of her career: Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote.