Angela Lansbury

From Academic Kids

Angela Lansbury CBE (born October 16, 1925) is a British-born American actress and the granddaughter of politician George Lansbury. She was born Angela Brigid Lansbury in London, the daughter of an actress. She moved to the United States at the beginning of World War II and became a naturalized citizen in 1951.

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Angela Lansbury on the cover of a book based on her character in the TV series, Murder, She Wrote.

She made her Academy Award nominated film debut in 1944, in the Charles Boyer/Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight, followed by another Oscar nomination for the Oscar Wilde film The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and has since enjoyed a long and varied career, mainly as a film actress, appearing in everything from Samson and Delilah (1949) to Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).

Lansbury's performance in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as the evil, manipulative mother who turned her son into an assassin, won much praise and won her a third Oscar nomination. In the film, Lansbury's son was played by Lawrence Harvey, who was then only three years younger than she. Lansbury has been quoted in an interview with CNN's Larry King as saying that this was her favorite of her many film roles.

Lansbury received a Golden Globe in 1965 for her work the previous year as a similarly distant mother in the comedy, The World of Henry Orient, opposite her love-interest in the film, Peter Sellers, and a very young Tom Bosley as her husband. She later played Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in The Mirror Crack'd (1980). She then turned to character voice work in animated films like The Last Unicorn (1984), winning a great deal of praise for her affectionate turn as the singing teapot Mrs. Potts in the Disney hit Beauty and the Beast (1991). She also did character work as the Dowager Empress in the less well-received animated film Anastasia in 1997.

On Broadway, Lansbury received good reviews from her very first musical outing, the short-lived 1964 Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle. Starting in 1966, her long-running portrayal as Jerry Herman's Mame, opposite Bea Arthur as Vera, earned Lansbury her first Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Subsequent Tony awards were earned for Dear World (1969) and the first Broadway revival of Gypsy (1974). Her English music-hall turn as meat-pie entrepreneuse Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's ballad opera Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street earned her yet another Tony Award in 1979. She has received a Tony nomination for every lead role she has essayed on Broadway.

As Jessica Fletcher in the long-running television series, Murder, She Wrote (1984 - 1996), she found her biggest success and a worldwide following. It was to be one of the longest running prime time detective drama series in US TV history and made her one of the highest paid actresses in the world and a record as the most nominated lead actress without a win in the prime time Emmy awards (with 12 nominations).

In the early 1990s the British Government awarded Angela Lansbury the CBE. She was named a Disney Legend in 1995. She received a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, and Kennedy Center Honors in 2000.

Lansbury was briefly married from 1945-46 to American actor Richard Cromwell when she was 19 and Cromwell was 35. In 1948, Lansbury remarried, to Irish-born actor and businessman Peter Shaw. Shaw was instrumental in guiding and managing Ms. Lansbury's career. Until Shaw's death in 2003, Lansbury enjoyed one of the longest and most prolific of show-business marriages.

Lansbury is the mother of two, stepmother of one, and a proud grandmother several times over. Her son, Anthony, was producer/director of Murder She Wrote, and is today a television executive. Lansbury's daughter, Deirdre Angela Shaw Battarrais, along with her Italian husband Enzo, today is co-manager of a popular cafe, Ristorante Positano, in West Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Lansbury was related by her half-sister Isolde's marriage to the late British actor, Peter Ustinov; the two in-laws appeared together professionally just once in 1978's Death on the Nile. Lansbury is today related by marriage of her stepson David Lansbury to the American actress Ally Sheedy. A footnote is that one of Ms. Lansbury's two twin brothers, Edgar Lansbury, was the producer of Godspell, the smash-hit broadway musical, in the 1970s.

Today, Lansbury, a longtime resident of Brentwood, California takes time to support various philanthropic groups. Lansbury was the Guest of Honor at the 14th annual Gala and Fundraiser on April 16, 2005 for Women in Recovery, Inc., a Venice, California-based non-profit organization offering a live-in, 12-Step program of rehabilitation for women in need. Past Honorees of this organization have included Jamie Lee Curtis and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Lansbury also enjoys vacation time regularly at her home in Ireland.


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