Angela Lansbury, the big-eyed, scene-stealing British actor who kicked up her heels within the Broadway musicals Mame and Gypsy and solved countless murders as crime novelist Jessica Fletcher within the long-running TV sequence Homicide, She Wrote, has died. She was 96.
Lansbury died Tuesday at her house in Los Angeles, in keeping with an announcement from her three youngsters. She died 5 days shy of her 97th birthday.
Lansbury received 5 Tony Awards for her Broadway performances and a lifetime achievement award. She earned Academy Award nominations as supporting actress for 2 of her first three movies, Gaslight (1945) and The Image of Dorian Grey (1946), and was nominated once more in 1962 for The Manchurian Candidate and her lethal portrayal of a Communist agent and the title character’s mom.
Her mature manner prompted producers to solid her a lot older than her precise age. In 1948, when she was 23, her hair was streaked with gray so she might play a forty-ish newspaper writer with a yen for Spencer Tracy in State of the Union.
Her stardom got here in center age when she grew to become the hit of the New York theatre, successful Tony Awards for Mame (1966), Expensive World (1969), Gypsy (1975) and Sweeney Todd (1979).
She was again on Broadway and obtained one other Tony nomination in 2007 in Terrence McNally’s Deuce, taking part in a scrappy, brash former tennis star, reflecting with one other ex-star as she watches a modern-day match from the stands. In 2009 she collected her fifth Tony, for finest featured actress in a revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and in 2015 received an Olivier Award within the position.
However Lansbury’s widest fame started in 1984 when she launched Homicide, She Wrote on CBS. Based mostly loosely on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple tales, the sequence centred on Jessica Fletcher, a middle-aged widow and former substitute faculty instructor residing within the seaside village of Cabot Cove, Maine. She had achieved discover as a thriller novelist and beginner sleuth.
The actor discovered the primary sequence season exhausting.
“I used to be shocked after I realized that needed to work 12-15 hours a day, relentlessly, day in, day trip,” she recalled. “I needed to lay down the legislation at one level and say `Look, I can’t do these exhibits in seven days; it must be eight days.‘”
CBS and the manufacturing firm, Common Studio, agreed, particularly since Homicide, She Wrote had change into a Sunday evening hit. Regardless of the lengthy days — she left her house at Brentwood in West Los Angeles at 6 a.m. and returned after darkish — and reams of dialogue to memorize, Lansbury maintained a gentle tempo. She was happy that Jessica Fletcher served as an inspiration for older girls.
“Girls in movement footage have all the time had a troublesome time being position fashions for different girls,” she noticed. “They’ve all the time been thought-about glamorous of their jobs.”
Within the sequence’ first season, Jessica wore garments that had been nearly frumpy. Then she acquired smartness, Lansbury reasoning that, as a profitable lady, Jessica ought to gown the half.
Homicide, She Wrote stayed excessive within the rankings via its eleventh yr. Then CBS, looking for a youthful viewers for Sunday evening, shifted the sequence to a much less beneficial midweek slot. Lansbury protested vigorously to no avail.
As anticipated, the rankings plummeted and the present was cancelled. For comfort, CBS contracted for two-hour films of Homicide, She Wrote and different specials starring Lansbury.
Homicide, She Wrote and different tv work introduced her 18 Emmy nominations however she by no means received one. She holds the document for probably the most Golden Globe nominations and wins for finest actress in a tv drama sequence and probably the most Emmy nominations for lead actress in a drama sequence.
In a 2008 Related Press interview, Lansbury mentioned she nonetheless welcomed the best script however didn’t need to play “previous, decrepit girls,” she mentioned. “I need girls my age to be represented the best way they’re, which is important, productive members of society.”
“I’m astonished on the quantity of stuff I managed to pack into the years that I’ve been within the enterprise. And I’m nonetheless right here!”
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