Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury

Oct. 16th, 1925
Born in
Poplar, London, England, UK
5' 8

Angela Lansbury's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Murder, She Wrote TV Show
Murder, She Wrote
American Masters TV Show
American Masters

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born 16 October 1925) is a British American actress and singer in theatre, television and films. Her career has spanned seven decades and earned an unsurpassed number of performance Tony Awards (tied with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald), with five wins.

Lansbury was born to an upper middle class family in Poplar, East London. Her mother was the Irish actress Moyna MacGill, who regularly appeared on stage in the West End and who also starred in several films. Her father was the wealthy English timber merchant and politician Edgar Lansbury, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and former mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar. Her paternal grandfather was the Labour Party leader and prominent pacifist activist George Lansbury, a man she felt "awed" by, considering him "a giant in my youth". Angela had an older half sister, Isolde, who was the offspring of Moyna's previous marriage to Reginald Denham. In January 1930, when Angela was four, her mother gave birth to twin boys, Bruce and Edgar, leading the Lansburys to move from their Poplar flat to a house at 7 Weymouth Avenue in Mill Hill, North London; at weekends they would retreat to a farm in Berrick Salome, Oxfordshire.

Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film, Gaslight (1944). Two pictures later, she was again nominated for Best Supporting Actress, this time for The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). Now established as a supporting player of quality, she began a long career, often as "the other woman" in major productions and as the leading lady in lesser films.

On September 27, 1945, Lansbury married Richard Cromwell, an artist and decorator whose acting career had come to a standstill. Their marriage ended in less than a year when she filed for divorce on September 11, 1946, but they remained friends until his death. In December 1946, she was introduced to Peter Pullen Shaw at a party held by former co-star Hurd Hatfield in Ojai Valley. Shaw was an aspiring actor, also signed to MGM, and had recently left a relationship with Joan Crawford. He and Lansbury became a couple, living together before she proposed marriage. Their wedding was held at St. Columba's Church, a Church of Scotland-owned building in London in August 1949, followed by a honeymoon in France. Living in her Malibu home overlooking the ocean, purchased before the wedding, Lansbury played a part in raising Shaw's son from his previous marriage, and in 1951, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In a break from touring, in 1952 her first child, Anthony Peter, was born, followed by the 1953 birth of Deirdre Angela.

In September 1970, a fire destroyed her home in Malibu, California, prompting a move to a rural area of County Cork in Ireland. Lansbury is a long-time resident of Brentwood, a neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, where she supported various philanthropies. In 1991, she decided to return to County Cork, purchasing land near Churchtown on which to build a farmhouse. In 2006 she moved to New York City, purchasing a condominium at a reported cost of $2 million. Lansbury's papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.

Moving to television, in 1984 Lansbury achieved widespread fame as the fictional writer and sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the American murder mystery series Murder, She Wrote, which ran for 12 seasons until 1996. One of the longest-running detective drama series in television history, she assumed ownership of the series and was executive producer for the final 4 seasons.

Lansbury highest profile cinematic role since The Manchurian Candidate was as the voice of the singing teapot Mrs. Potts in the 1991 Disney animation Beauty and the Beast, an appearance she considered a gift to her 3 grandchildren. Lansbury performed the title song to the film, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

Lansbury reprised the role of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) and in the video game Kingdom Hearts II (2006). Lansbury made her first theatrical film appearance since 1984 as Aunt Adelaide in Nanny McPhee in 2005. Lansbury co-starred in Mr. Popper's Penguins, opposite 'Jim Carrey', released in June 2011. She is also scheduled to appear in another film, Adaline.

In November 2012, she hosted the PBS Thanksgiving special Downton Abbey Revisited, a documentary retrospective of the Downton Abbey television series.

  • She was a longtime friend of the late 'Bob Hope (I)' (qv) and gave a speech at his memorial service on 27 August 2003. She and Hope appeared on _Bob Hope: The First 90 Years (1993) (TV)_ (qv), and she sang with him.
  • Her son was a follower of 'Charles Manson' (qv)'s gang. After the 'Sharon Tate (I)' (qv) murders, she thought it best to get him out of the country. She took him to Ireland to help him with his drug problems.
  • She had performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their annual public Christmas concerts at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Her performance as Mrs. John Iselin in _The Manchurian Candidate (1962)_ (qv) is ranked #91 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
  • Before becoming a professional performer she went by her middle name Brigid. MGM wanted her to take the name Angela Marlowe but she refused.
  • She was nominated for the 2007 Tony Award (New York City) for Actress in a Drama for "Deuce".
  • July 14, 2005: She had knee replacement surgery.
  • Ex-stepmother-in-law of 'Catherine Bach' (qv).

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