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HomeIndustry SectorFilmAngela Lansbury, Oscar-Winning Star of TV's Murder, She Wrote, Dies at 96

Angela Lansbury, Oscar-Winning Star of TV’s Murder, She Wrote, Dies at 96

Dame Angela Lansbury, who starred in the CBS’ long-running hit series Murder, She Wrote and won an honorary Oscar in 2014 for her contributions to the entertainment industry, has died at 96.

Lansbury’s family released the following statement:

“The children of Dame Angela Lansbury are sad to announce that their mother died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1:30 AM today, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, just five days shy of her 97th birthday. In addition to her three children, Anthony, Deirdre and David, she is survived by three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine and Ian, plus five great grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury. She was proceeded in death by her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw. A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined.”

Lansbury was best known for her role as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, which ran for 12 seasons and brought her an Emmy nomination every season, which is truly impressive. She was also nominated for three competitive Oscars for her supporting roles in Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Manchurian Candidate.

Lansbury was born in London in 1925 into an elite family with deep roots in local politics. Her father died when she was a young girl and with WWII beginning a few years later, her mother (an actress herself) moved the family to New York in the summer of 1940.

She started her career with a three-week gig at a supper club in Montreal, and it wasn’t long before she made her way to Los Angeles, where she signed a seven-year deal at MGM, which paid her $500 a week at age 17.

The Manchurian Candidate
Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate/United Artists

Lansbury was frequently cast as characters far older than she, though she took advantage of those opportunities and promptly made a name for herself on screen and stage, where she won five Tony Awards — the most recent in 2009 for Blithe Spirit. She won her first Tony in 1979 for her turn as the pie-making Nellie Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and her three other wins include Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), and Gypsy (1975).

Lansbury wound up singing on the big screen as Mrs. Potts, the teapot in Disney’s 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast, which went on to become the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture. 25 years later, she would perform the film’s title track on stage at Lincoln Center to tremendous applause.

Movie fans will remember Lansbury for her chilling performance in The Manchurian Candidate, a movie she was excited to make after John Frankenheimer gave her the book while working with her on the 1962 movie All Fall Down.

Still, in the end, Lansbury will be best remembered for her turn as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, which ran from 1984 to 1996 and saw the character using her unique skills as a mystery writer to outwit local cops and unmask criminals. The show found a loyal audience around the world, and Lansbury was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame as soon as it wrapped its run in ’96.

Lansbury, who was coronated as a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II during a 2014 ceremony at Windsor Castle, is survived by her three children, Anthony, Deirdre, and David; her three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine, and Ian; plus five great-grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury. A private family ceremony will be held at a later date.

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