Murder, She Wrote star Angela Lansbury dies at 96

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Murder, She Wrote star Angela Lansbury dies at 96 

By Elsa Maishman
By Elsa Maishman

Dame Angela Lansbury, who won international acclaim as the star of the US TV crime series Murder, She Wrote, has died aged 96.

The three-time Oscar contender worked in theatre, cinema, and television for eight decades.

She was one of the final Golden Age Hollywood movie stars still alive when she was born in 1925.


Just five days shy of becoming 97 years old, Dame Angela passed away in her sleep, according to a statement from her family.


The family released a statement saying, “The children of Dame Angela Lansbury are devastated to announce that their mother passed away quietly in her sleep at home in Los Angeles.”

    • Obituary: Angela Lansbury

      Dame Angela, who was born in London, eventually relocated to New York and enrolled in the Feagin School of Dramatic Art.

      She was cast in her first role as a maid in the 1944 picture Gaslight, which was based on the 1938 play of the same name, after being observed by a Hollywood executive at a party in 1942. The next year, her interpretation garnered her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

      The phrase “gaslighting” was first used in a play by Patrick Hamilton about a young lady whose spouse gradually led her to believe she was losing her mind.

      The British actress received two further Oscar nods for her roles as Sibyl in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and Laurence Harvey’s cunning mother in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), which she co-starred in with Frank Sinatra.

      She received three Tony Awards after making the transition to Broadway in the 1960s, including one for her performance as Nellie Lovett in Sweeney Todd in 1970.

      She then had an appearance in the Disney smash Bedknobs and Broomsticks a year later, and she eventually voiced Mrs. Potts in the animated Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins Returns, among other children’s movies.

      However, her role as sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the television series Murder, She Wrote is what made her famous worldwide.

    • Starring as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote brought international fame and made her very wealthy
      Starring as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote brought international fame and made her very wealthy

      She began in 1984 and performed in the part for 12 years, or nine seasons.

      With a fortune estimated at $100 million, the programme made her one of the richest women in the US at the time.

      In a 1985 TV interview, Lansbury claimed, “I worked considerably harder on a role in the theatre than I do portraying Jessica.”

      “For me, Jessica is much closer to home. She is a laid-back individual.

      It’s simply that I can identify with her, she continued.

      In 2013, at the age of 88, she received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.

      Her fellow actor Geoffrey Rush described her as the “living definition of range” at the event.

      Following a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a lifetime achievement award from the Bafta in 2002, it was given.

      For her contributions to play, charity work, and philanthropy, she was named a Dame in 2014.

    • Dame Angela Lansbury speaks to the BBC's Andrew Marr in 2014
      Dame Angela Lansbury speaks to the BBC’s Andrew Marr in 2014

      Following her passing, tributes praised a Hollywood “legend.”

      On Twitter, actor Josh Gad posted: “It is uncommon for one artist to have an impact on several generations, producing a range of work that defines one decade after another. That artist’s name was Angela Lansbury.”

      Harvey Fierstein, a fellow performer, adding that Dame Angela was “everything.”

      Dame Angela was a co-star in the 1978 movie Death on the Nile with actress Mia Farrow, who later described the experience as “an honour.”

      Oscar-winner In a letter, Viola Davis expressed her belief that the late actor “would live forever.” What a very lovely legacy you’ve left, she wrote in her message. “You have inspired countless performers to strive for perfection.”

      Jason Alexander, who played Jerry Seinfeld on the show, wrote on Twitter that “one of the most varied, brilliant, graceful, kind, witty, insightful, and dignified people I’ve ever encountered has left us,” adding that “her immense impact to the arts and the world stays forever.”

      In a statement on the news of Dame Angela Lansbury’s demise, comedian and actress Kathy Griffin said: “I cannot tell you how many ladies and gays are devastated, touched, and feeling nostalgic for something in the past.”

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