Angela Lansbury

Active - 1944 - 2018  |   Born - Oct 16, 1925 in London, England  |   Genres - Mystery, Drama, Children's/Family, Romance, Fantasy

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Biography by Rovi

Angela Lansbury received an Oscar nomination for her first film, Gaslight, in 1944, and has been winning acting awards and audience favor ever since. Born in London to a family that included both politicians and performers, Lansbury came to the U.S. during World War II. She made notable early film appearances as the snooty sister in National Velvet (1944); the pathetic singer in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), which garnered her another Academy nomination; and the madam-with-a-heart-of-gold saloon singer in The Harvey Girls (1946). She turned evil as the manipulative publisher in State of the Union (1948), but was just as convincing as the good queen in The Three Musketeers (1948) and the petulant daughter in The Court Jester (1956). She received another Oscar nomination for her chilling performance as Laurence Harvey's scheming mother in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and appeared as the addled witch in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), among other later films. On Broadway, she won Tony awards for the musicals Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), the revival of Gypsy (1975), Sweeney Todd (1979) and, at age 82, for the play Blithe Spirit (2009). Despite a season in the '50s on the game show Pantomime Quiz, she came to series television late, starring in 1984-1996 as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote; she took over as producer of the show in the '90s. She returned to the Disney studios to record the voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and to sing the title song and later reprised the role in the direct-to-video sequel, The Enchanted Christmas (1997). Lansbury is the sister of TV producer Bruce Lansbury.

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  • Left her native England with mother and two brothers in 1940 on the last boat to America following the London Blitz; became U.S. citizen in 1951. 
  • Nominated for an Oscar for her film debut in 1944's Gaslight.
  • Broadway musical debut was in Stephen Sondheim's short-lived Anyone Can Whistle in 1964; other Broadway triumphs include Mame, Gypsy, Sweeney ToddBlithe Spirit and A Little Night Music.
  • Was only three years older than Laurence Harvey, who played her son in The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
  • Noted film appearances include The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), and Beauty and the Beast (1991).
  • Received an Emmy nomination for the role of Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote for each of the 12 seasons the detective drama aired, but never won.
  • Among honors received: induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame (1982) and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame (1996); recipient of the National Medal of Arts (1997) and the Kennedy Center Honors (2000).
  • Named a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in her New Year Honor's List in 2013.