8 Reasons Why We Will Always Love Angela Lansbury, Who Kept Working Until the Very End
Born in 1925, Angela Lansbury was one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of cinema. The actress reached the age of 96, while for the better part of 80 years, she lived most of her life in the spotlight. Holder of 6 Tonys, 6 Golden Globes awards, and an Academy Honorary Award, the legacy Lansbury left us doesn’t end here. Let’s take a look at some little-known facts that turned a teenager from London into a world-renowned and recognized artist.
When she lost her father, Angela found the best way to cope with the grief: performing.
We could say Lansbury got the acting bug from her mother, Moyna Macgill. She was an Irish actress performing in London’s West End, where she met Edgar Lansbury, who would later become her husband. However, Angela Lansbury’s father passed away when she was only 9 years old, and according to her, that was “the defining moment of my life. Nothing before or since has affected me so deeply.”
Right after, to cope with the grief and to channel it constructively, the youngster became interested in acting. 5 years later, when her grandfather passed, her mother packed everyone’s bags, and they moved to the US.
She didn’t mind using a white lie to her benefit.
At 16, Lansbury left the acting conservatory and put together a one-woman show that showcased her gift for impressions as well as her soft singing voice. In order to get access into clubs and perform that piece, as a teenager at the time, Lansbury would lie about her real age.
The teenage actress with no on-screen experience impressed movie directors at first sight.
Through her mother, Angela Lansbury met screenwriter John Van Druten, who at the time completed his script of Gaslight. He thought she would be perfect for the role of the conniving maid, Nancy Oliver. After a successful screen test, Lansbury landed her first feature film role at the mere age of 17, securing herself a 7-year contract with the studio MGM.
Moyne Macgill and daughter Angela Lansbury, 1963
Gaslight’s director, George Cukor, would later say about the actress “On the first day of shooting, even though she was only 17 and had no experience, she was immediately professional. She became this little housemaid—even her face seemed to change. Suddenly, I was watching real movie acting.”
Angela Lansbury was a woman of many talents.
Angela Lansbury, snapshots through the years
The actress delved into film, television, and stage and did it flawlessly, adding up to an eight-decade career — longer than the worldwide average life expectancy. Her ability to camouflage into any narrative, while being aware that the industry of cinema can send an actress to stardom, albeit being all an illusion, made Lansbury stand out from the crowd.
The actress achieved numerous world records.
Murder, She Wrote is the show that helped Angela Lansbury achieve worldwide stardom. Having received a record number of nominations all throughout her life, the actress didn’t stop there — even one of her on-screen characters from the series, Jessica Fletcher, holds the Guinness World Record for Most Prolific Amateur Sleuth.
Dame Angela Lansbury had many citizenships.
While she achieved worldwide recognition, the London-born actress had both British citizenship and Irish citizenship from her mother’s side since birth, and later in life she got an American one.
Married twice, Angela Lansbury went through a lot of pain but always rose above it.
Richard Cromwell, 1935
When she was 19, in 1949, the actress married her first husband, actor Richard Cromwell, who was 16 years her senior. The marriage was short-lived, and they divorced 9 months later, but the two remained friends until the actor passed away; only after did Lansbury found out Cromwell was gay.
“I had no idea that I was marrying a gay man,” she said. “I found him such an attractive individual. He wanted to marry, and he was fascinated with me, but only because of what he had seen on the screen, really. It was just a terrible error I made as a very young woman. But I don’t regret it.”
Angela and husband Peter through the years
Soon after, Lansbury met and married her second husband, actor turned Hollywood agent, Peter Shaw. The two were married for 53 years, and they shared 3 children together, David, Anthony, and Deidre. “Frankly, I wish I had spent more time with my family and less time making mediocre movies in those days,” the actress shared in an interview.
Angela Lansbury continued to work until the very end.
The actress became a widow in 2003, but this didn’t stop her from keeping on doing what she really loved. She became a grandmother, and while sharing that her grandchildren are the most important part of her life, she was never ready to retire. “I’ve never been particularly aware of my age,” the actress said. “It’s like being on a bicycle — I just put my foot down and keep going. Providing I can put one foot in front of the other, I will continue to act.”
On October 11th, 2022, just 5 days shy from her 97th birthday, the Golden Age actress, Angela Lansbury, passed away, leaving behind a legacy that will always serve as a prime example of grace, dignity, and limitless talent.
What’s your favorite, most memorable character Angela Lansbury brought to life? In your opinion, what are 3 attributes that an actor needs to make it big in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments.