The six-time Tony Award-winning actor Angela Lansbury, who created roles including Mame Dennis and Mrs. Lovett, has passed away. She was 96 years old and five days away from turning 97.
In Regent’s Park, London, on October 16, 1925, performer Moyna MacGill and English politician Edgar Lansbury had their first child, Angela Brigid Lansbury. She enrolled in the Webber Douglas School of Singing and Dramatic Art in Kensington, West London, in 1940 to start her studies. During the Blitz, she relocated to New York City with her family, where she attended the Feagin School of Drama and Radio on a scholarship from the American Theatre Wing.
After that, Lansbury started a career in acting and relocated to Hollywood with her mother. She met screenwriter John Van Druten by happenstance in 1944, and they went on to collaborate on the movie Gaslight, for which she won her first of three Academy Award nominations. She played Nancy Oliver. Before her contract with MGM expired in 1952, she acted in a number of films during this time, including National Velvet, The Picture of Dorian Gray (for which she received her second Oscar nomination), and many others. In 1962, she was cast as Eleanor Iselin in the Cold War thriller The Manchurian Candidate, for which she garnered her third Oscar nomination. This was one of her most noteworthy cinematic appearances.
Lansbury appeared in A Taste of Honey in 1960 after making her Broadway debut in Hotel Paradiso in 1957. Anyone Can Whistle, a 1964 musical by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, served as her debut musical. She swiftly went on to play several more musical theater roles, emerging as one of the leading actresses in the field. She received Tony Awards for creating the characters of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979), Countess Aurelia in Dear World (1969), Mame Dennis in Mame (1966), and Rose in Gypsy (1975).
For her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher, the investigator and crime novelist on the enduring television series Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury gained international acclaim and won four Golden Globe Awards. In 2002, she voiced Mrs. Potts in the unforgettable Disney film Beauty and the Beast. She was further nominated for two Emmy Awards in 2005 for her work on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
She appeared on stage frequently in her final years. In Terrence McNally’s Deuce, about two retired tennis pros who reunite to watch a match together, Lansbury had a triumphant comeback to Broadway in 2007. She starred in the play opposite Marian Seldes that year. She then made a historic performance as Madame Arcati in Michael Blakemore’s revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, for which she tied the record for most Tony Awards with five (she shared the record with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald before McDonald claimed her sixth Tony in 2014).
Another Tony nomination went to Lansbury in 2009 for her performance as Madame Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn’s version of A Little Night Music. Later, she portrayed Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, the political powerhouse, in the 2012 Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. In Driving Miss Daisy, she toured Australia with Boyd Gaines and James Earl Jones, and in 2014, she returned to the West End of London to reprise her role as Madame Arcati. Most recently, she provided the narrator’s voice for the current Beauty and the Beast UK tour.
Lansbury was awarded an Honorary Oscar on November 16, 2013, in recognition of her 70 years of contribution in the film industry. She received her sixth Tony Award earlier this year when she was recognized for lifetime achievement.
Peter Shaw, her second husband, whom she married in 1949, passed away in 2003. Anthony, Deirdre, and David Lansbury, along with their three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury, remain as Lansbury’s heirs.
The family has announced that a private memorial service will take place at a later date.