Angela Lansbury, Dead at 96
By Abb Jones
Angela Lansbury, one of the last remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood whose career spanned 80 years and included one of the longest running detective series in television history, has died at the age of 96.
Lansbury’s family says she died in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles Tuesday, just five days short of what would have been her 97th birthday.
Born in 1925 to an upper-middle class family in London, Landsbury moved to the United States in 1940 to escape the Nazi Blitz of London.
Two years later she would sign with MGM and later star in her first two films, 1944’s Gaslight and 1945’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, both of which would earn her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations. After a series of minor roles, she would score her third Oscar nomination with 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate.
It was Broadway that would then be her next acting conquest, where Landsbury would win the first of her five Tony awards for the 1965 musical Mame. Lansbury’s most recent Tony came in 2009 for her work in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.
In 1984, Lansbury conquered television, starring as the beloved detective Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, which ran for 12 seasons until 1996, making it one of the longest-running and most popular detective drama series in television history. Her portrait of a widowed mystery writer who outwitted criminals and often even the local police was a huge hit around the world. Although Lansbury was nominated for Emmy awards for all 12 seasons, she never won.
Lansbury was twice married, first in 1941 at the age of 19 for only nine months to actor Richard Cromwell, although they remained close friends until his death in 1960, and again to actor/director Peter Shaw in 1949, whom she was with for 53 years until his death in 2003. Lansbury is survived by her three children and three grandchildren, five great grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury.
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