I consider myself lucky. I saw Angela Lansbury on stage three times. Two musicals. “Sweeney Todd.” “A Little Night Music.” A play. Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man.”
We lost her yesterday. She was 96. It really was a remarkable career. Tributes are pouring in. Here’s mine.
Think about this. She came to Hollywood as a teenager. She was English. The family came here to get away from the threat of World War Two.
Angela Lansbury’s first role was in the movie “Gaslight” in 1944. She got an Academy Award nomination. To this day, we use the term “gaslighting” to refer to psychological manipulation.
She had a remarkable career in Hollywood. She called herself a “character actress.” If you see one Angela Lansbury movie, make it “The Manchurian Candidate.”
The movie was made in 1962. It centered on the Communist threat to the American Government. Frank Sinatra starred. He would later say that it was Angela Lansbury’s movie. She was diabolical as a manipulative mother. That movie sticks with you. Powerful. That kiss!!!
Then, Angela Lansbury conquered the stage. “Mame.” “Gypsy.” “Sweeney Todd.” Many more. Six Tony awards.
Then, the unlikely hit that endures today. “Murder, She Wrote.” Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher. Twelve seasons on CBS. 1984-1996. To this day, I still watch the reruns.
There was another big movie too. I can still hear Mrs. Potts sing “Beauty and the Beast” in my head right now.
Angela Lansbury kept working. She told Katie Couric, “I really don’t know how to relax to the degree that I could just stop. So when something comes along and is presented to me, and I think Gee, I could have some fun doing that, or I could bring something to that, I’ll do it.”
She did it. Every time she gave a performance she brought something to it.
Angela Lansbury received a Tony Award for life achievement earlier this year. Well deserved.
I’ll be watching a lot of “Murder, She Wrote” in the coming days. I know Angela Lansbury is right where she belongs in my mind. The eternal Cabot Cove. I can hear the theme song now.