On the Stage, Behind the Scenes and In the Audience
Angela Lansbury has enjoyed an unprecedented career spanning more than 60 years, first as a star of motion pictures, and as an award-winning stage actor in New York and London. Most recently, she appeared as Madame Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (Tony Award nomination), and Madame Arcati in the 2009 revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, for which she won her fifth Tony Award, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and she performed in 2006 in Terrence McNally’s Deuce, for which she was also nominated for a Tony. She made her Broadway debut in 1957 as Bert Lahr’s wife in Hotel Paradiso. In 1960, she returned to Broadway as Joan Plowright’s mother in the season’s most acclaimed drama, A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney. A year later, she starred in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to Broadway in triumph in 1966 in Mame, for which she won her first Tony. She received others as the Madwoman of Chaillot in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival ofGypsy and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979). The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film, Gaslight (1944). Two pictures later, she was again nominated for Best Supporting Actress, this time for The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). Now established as a supporting player of quality, she began a long career, often as “the other woman” in major productions and as the leading lady in lesser films. Her features, while not at all old-appearing, gave her an air of maturity that allowed her to pass as much older than she actually was, and she began playing mother roles, often to players of her own age, while yet in her thirties. Although active in television since the early 1950s, she obtained her greatest fame by starring vrom 1984-1996 as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on Murder, She Wrote, the longest-running detective drama series in the history of television, and won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth named her a Commander of the British Empire, and in 2000 she received the Kennedy Center Honors. Married in 1949, she and husband Peter worked together until his death in 2003. She has three children and three grandchildren.