Angela Lansbury
Birth Date:
October 16, 1925
Birth Place:
London, England, UK
5' 8" (1.73 m)
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Murder, She Wrote


“I'm a character actress. I can play anything and my entire career was built on that premise. That's the reason I am what I am today.” Angela Lansbury

Golden Globe and Tony Award winning actress Angela Lansbury, who has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, hit it big with a supporting role in her film debut, “Gaslight” (1944; starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer). The English actress who came to Hollywood during World War II has since continued to deliver brilliant performances in her follow-up films, including "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945), "The Harvey Girls" (1946), "State of the Union" (1948), "All Fall Down" (1962), "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971), "Death on the Nile" (1978), "The Mirror Crack'd" (1980), "The Pirates of Penzance" (1983), "The Company of Wolves" (1984), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991; voice), "Anastasia" (1997; voice) and "Nanny McPhee" (2005). She will lend her voice for an upcoming animated family movie called "Heidi 4 Paws."

On the small screen, Lansbury is widely recognized as Jessica Fletcher, the mystery writer and amateur detective, in the hit CBS mystery TV series "Murder, She Wrote" (1984-1996), which made her the record holder for most Emmy nominations (12 nominations) without a win.

A true thespian, this four-time Tony winner took home the prestigious Broadway award while starring in "Mame" (1966), "Dear World" (1969), "Gypsy" (1974) and "Sweeney Todd" (1979). She returned to the Broadway stage in 2007 to star in “Deuce” and picked up yet another Tony nomination.

This British character actress, who became a U.S. citizen in 1951, was awarded an honorary C.B.E. from the British Government through Queen Elizabeth II. One of the most respected and versatile actresses of the 20th century, Lansbury was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, DC. (1997), was the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center Honors (2000), and has a star on Walk of Fame.

Angela Brigid

Childhood and Family:

“Actors are not made, they are born.” Angela Lansbury

In London, England, Angela Brigid Lansbury was born on October 16, 1925. She is the first child of Edgar Lansbury (died in 1934 of stomach cancer at age 48) and actress Moyna MacGill (Charlotte Lillian McIldowie; died on November 25, 1975), who appeared with her in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945) and “Kind Lady” (1951). Her grand father was high-ranking politician George Lansbury, the British Labour Party leader in the 1930s.

Angela Lansbury, alongside her mother and her twin younger brothers Edgar and Bruce (born on January 12, 1930; both would later become film producers), were in the last boatload evacuated from London to America during the WWII blitz. Lansbury also has one half-sister, Isolde, from her mother's first marriage to Reginald Denham. Isolde died in May 1987.

Lansbury trained at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London from 1939 to 1940. She also studied at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art, in New York, New York, from 1940 to 1942.

In 1945, Lansbury married American actor Richard Cromwell when he was 35 and she was 19. In a recent authorized biography, "Balancing Act," she states that her first husband, Richard Cromwell, was gay, a fact she didn't know until after their separation.

Lansbury then married British-born actor and businessman Peter Shaw in 1949. Shaw, who had been a former boyfriend of Joan Crawford, was instrumental in guiding and managing Lansbury's career. Until his death in 2003, they enjoyed one of the longest show-business marriages on record.

Lansbury has a son, Anthony Peter Shaw (born in 1952), who was a follower of the Charles Manson's gang and had a serious addiction to heroin in the 1960s and early 70s. She also has one daughter, Deirdre Angela Shaw (born on April 26, 1953), who was briefly involved with the Manson family in the 1960s and also suffered from substance abuse. After a brief fling with acting, Anthony became a producer/director of “Murder, She Wrote” and presently is a television executive and director. Meanwhile, Deirdre and her chef husband are now restaurateurs in West Los Angeles. Lansbury also has one stepson, David Shaw, from Peter's previous marriage.

“I've had an incredible relationship with my husband, with my family. I know they've had problems of their own, but we have never wavered in our closeness as a family. I've had a hell of a life.” Angela Lansbury

Lansbury became a U.S. citizen in 1951. She was awarded an honorary C.B.E. from the British Government through Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1994, Lansbury underwent hip replacement surgery and knee replacement surgery in 2005. A long-time resident of Brentwood, California, Lansbury supports various philanthropic groups in Southern California. In 2006, she purchased a condominium in New York City at a reported cost of $2 million.

The Manchurian Candidate


While working at the Bullocks Wilshire department store in Los Angeles, Angela Lansbury met would-be actor Michael Dyne, who arranged for her to meet Mel Ballerino, who was casting a mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton's play, “Gaslight,” with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Ballerino offered her the role of the impertinent and slightly malevolent maid Nancy and 18-year-old Lansbury, who had initially been rejected for the role by film director George Cukor because he thought she was too young, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in her 1944 film debut.

In the following year, Lansbury garnered her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and won Golden Globe's Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Sibyl Vane in Albert Lewin's horror-drama film based on the 1891 novel by Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945; with Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders, and Donna Reed), which also marked her screen singing debut.

Lansbury subsequently portrayed Em in George Sidney's musical film based on a 1942 novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams, "The Harvey Girls" (1946; alongside Judy Garland and John Hodiak). Two years later, when she was only 23 years old, Lansbury played matronly newspaper manager Kay Thorndyke in Frank Capra's film adaptation of the Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse play, "State of the Union," starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. After her MGM contract expired, Lansbury briefly went on unemployment in the early 1950s. She made her U.S. TV debut in the CBS anthology drama "The Revlon Mirror Theater" (1953) and made her Broadway debut in "Hotel Paradiso" (1957), starring Burt Lahr.

In the early 1960s, Lansbury enjoyed stage success with a Broadway production of the first play by British dramatist Shelagh Delaney, "A Taste of Honey," in which Angela starred as Helen. During this time, she also received critical attention for her performance in the film "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960; with Dorothy McGuire, Robert Preston, Shirley Knight, and Eve Arden), Delbert Mann's film adaptation of William Inge's 1957 play in which she played Preston's childhood friend Mavis Pruitt, whom the town rumor mill believes is a loose woman.

Lansbury then made two films with John Frankenheimer in 1962, "All Fall Down" (starring Eva Marie Saint and Warren Beatty), the melodrama adapted from a 1960 novel by James Leo Herlihy for which she won a National Board of Review (NBR) Award for Best Supporting Actress, and "The Manchurian Candidate" (with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh), a cold War political thriller film adapted from the 1959 thriller novel by Richard Condon in which she played the mother of Laurence Harvey (who was only three years her junior). She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a National Board of Review Award (NBR) and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance as Mrs. John Iselin in “The Manchurian Candidate” would later be ranked #21 in AFI's “100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains.”

Returning to Broadway, Lansbury starred in her first musical in "Anyone Can Whistle" (1964), which marked her first collaboration with composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and headlined a Broadway production of the Jerry Herman musical hit that was based on the 1955 novel “Auntie Mame” by Patrick Dennis. She was also seen in a 1956 Broadway play by Lawrence and Lee, "Mame" (1966), in which she portrayed the title role of Mame Dennis and received her first of four Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. In 1968, she teamed up again with Jerry Herman for the musical "Dear World," which was adapted from Jean Giraudoux's play "The Madwoman of Chaillot" and won her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

The early 1970s saw Lansbury co-star with Michael York in Harold Prince's film version of Harry Kressing's novel, "Something for Everyone" (1970), in which she played a widowed countess. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy and appeared in the Disney animated-live action feature "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971), which would be her last film for seven years. Her portrayal of a spinster in the Academy Award winning 1971 musical film, which was based upon the books "The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons" and "Bonfires and Broomsticks" by Mary Norton, handed her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy.

Lansbury made her London stage debut in 1972 in the play "All Over" with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Two years later, she starred in a Broadway revival of the musical "Gypsy" (1974), for which she won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. In 1978, she played Anna for two weeks in the Broadway revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's musical "The King and I," opposite Yul Brynner, and won her fourth Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her stunning performance as Mrs. Lovett, opposite Len Cariou's Sweeney Todd, in Stephen Sondheim's musical, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"(1979).

Meanwhile, Lansbury returned to features in John Guillermin's film adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel, "Death on the Nile" (1978), which won her a National Board of Review (NBR) Award for Best Supporting Actress and a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She then portrayed the Agatha Christie sleuth Miss Marple in "The Mirror Crack'd" (1980), Guy Hamilton's all-star cast mystery feature motion picture based on Agatha Christie's Miss Marple novel "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side" (1962). Her performance in the film received Saturn Award's Best Actress nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

In 1982, Lansbury received the featured role of Ruth in Wilford Leach's film version of the New York Shakespeare Production of the two-act comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance," and portrayed Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in the NBC miniseries "Little Gloria... Happy at Last" (1982), which earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special. Also that year, she reprised the role of Mrs. Lovett in the Showtime adaptation of "Sweeney Todd" and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. She then starred in the made-for-television movie “The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story” (1983) and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her work.

“People find mysteries extremely satisfying. There's a beginning, middle and end. You solve the mystery along with me. Like a crossword puzzle. It's a perfect recipe. Children watch the show with their parents or grandparents. The show is sort of a lollipop.” Angela Lansbury

From 1984 to 1996, Lansbury starred as Jessica Fletcher, the mystery writer and amateur detective, in the hit CBS mystery TV series "Murder, She Wrote." It ran for 12 seasons and was followed by four TV films "Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest" (1997), "Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For" (2000), "Murder, She Wrote: The Last Free Man" (2001), and "Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle" (2003) and a spin-off series, "The Law & Harry McGraw." The show received numerous Emmy Award nominations with Lansbury herself holding the record for the most Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, with 12, one for each season, but never won. The show won only twice, once for costume design in 1986 and music composition in 1985. However, Lansbury was more successful with the Golden Globe Awards, winning four times in 1985, 1987, 1990, and 1992 for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Drama.

During her hefty "Murder, She Wrote" stint, Lansbury starred in Neil Jordan's gothic fantasy-horror film "The Company of Wolves" (1984; alongside Sarah Patterson), which is based on the werewolf stories in Angela Carter's short story collection “The Bloody Chamber.” She went on to star in the ABC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of Rosamunde Pilcher's best-seller "The Shell Seekers" (1989) and voice the character of Mrs. Potts in Disney's critically-acclaimed animated family film "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), in which she also sang the Oscar-winning title tune.

In 1992, Lansbury was directed by son Anthony Shaw in the CBS TV-movie inspired by Paul Gallico's 1958 novel, "Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris," and starred in the 1996 CBS movie "Mrs. Santa Claus," an original musical written especially for television by Jerry Herman, the celebrated Broadway composer of such hit musicals as "Hello, Dolly!"

After founding a production company, Corymore, in 1996, Lansbury signed a development deal with Universal and voiced the character of The Dowager Empress Marie in the Academy Award nominated animated feature musical film "Anastasia" (1997), for which she was nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production.

In mid 2000, Lansbury withdrew from the Broadway musical "The Visit" because of her husband's impending heart surgery. Four years later, she co-starred with Gina McKee, Sam Robards, Dianne Wiest, and Keith McErlean in the CBS drama movie based on the 1999 novel by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, "The Blackwater Lightship" (2004), which earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. In the following year, she earned another Emmy nomination for guest-starring as Eleanor Duvall on a May 2005 episode of the NBC drama series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

“I just stopped playing b****es on wheels and peoples' mothers. I have only a few more years to kick up my heels!” Angela Lansbury

Lansbury recently returned to feature film co-starring with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth in Kirk Jones' children's film "Nanny McPhee" (2006), which was adapted by Emma Thompson from Christianna Brand's "Nurse Matilda" books. She also returned to Broadway in 2007 in a production of Terrence McNally's "Deuce," for which she earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play.

Lansbury has completed her upcoming film project, "Heidi 4 Paws," an animated family movie based on Johanna Spyri's novel in which she will voice Grandmamma, alongside Steve Guttenberg, Stephen Rea, and Richard Kind.

“I'm in a very enviable position, being able to work like this 45 years later. It's always beginning! I never have a sense of finishing up, just new things beginning. When I die, they're going to carry me off a stage.” Angela Lansbury


  • TV Land: Favorite Lady Gumshoe, "Murder, She Wrote," 2007

  • TV Land: Favorite Private Eye, "Murder, She Wrote," 2005

  • BAFTA/LA Britannia: Lifetime Achievement in Television and Film, 2003

  • Screen Actors Guild: Life Achievement Award, 1997

  • Television Critics Association: Career Achievement Award, 1996

  • Women in Film Lucy: Lucy Award, 1996

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, "Murder, She Wrote," 1992

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, "Murder, She Wrote," 1990

  • Edgar Allan Poe: Raven Award, 1988

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, "Murder, She Wrote," 1987

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, "Murder, She Wrote," 1985

  • People's Choice: Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program, 1985

  • Tony: Best Leading Actress in a Musical, "Sweeney Todd," 1979

  • National Board of Review (NBR): Best Supporting Actress, "Death on the Nile," 1978

  • Tony: Best Leading Actress in a Musical, "Gypsy," 1975

  • Tony: Best Leading Actress in a Musical, "Dear World," 1969

  • Hasty Pudding Theatricals: Woman of the Year, 1968

  • Tony: Best Leading Actress in a Musical, "Mame," 1966

  • Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress, "The Manchurian Candidate," 1963

  • National Board of Review (NBR): Best Supporting Actress, "The Manchurian Candidate," 1962

  • National Board of Review (NBR): Best Supporting Actress, "All Fall Down," 1962

  • Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," 1946

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