Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury DBE was born on October 16th, 1925 in London, England, in a family of actors, directors and politicians. Before becoming one of the most prolific actresses of her era —with a film career that would span over eighty years, beginning in the Golden Age of Hollywood— she expressed interest in theater and cinema from an early age. Before moving with her family to the U.S. at the time WWII broke out, Angela had been studying acting and taking piano lessons. Once she was in New York City, she studied at the Feagin School of Drama and Radio, graduating in 1942.
Moving to Hollywood, Angela Lansbury started her acting career when she was signed to production studio MGM in 1942. Her first film role was in Gaslight (1944,) and Angela’s performance was highly praised. The movie also earned several Academy Award nominations. Other notable movie appearances during this decade were The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), for which she was nominated for two Academy Awards and won a Golden Globe. During her seven-year contract with MGM, Angela played minor roles in eleven movies, among which were Till the Clouds Roll By (1947), If Winter Comes (1947), The Three Musketeers (1948) and The Red Danube (1949). Lansbury also did some radio, theater and television work to complement her minor film roles.
After her contract with MGM ended in 1952, Angela was able to appear in movies by other studios, but continued to play minor characters. During this time, she could be seen in films such as A Life at Stake (1954), A Lawless Street (1955,) and Please Murder Me (1956,) but it wasn’t until The Long Hot Summer (1958) and The Reluctant Debutante (1958) that her status as an actress began to rise. Lansbury’s appearance in the film The Manchurian Candidate (1962) was critically acclaimed and led her to her third Academy Award nomination. By the end of the sixties and for much of the 1970s, Angela turned to musical theater and it was her leading role in the Broadway musical Mame (1966) which won her first Tony Award and launched her to fame.
In 1970, Lansbury Left the U.S. for County Cork, Ireland, and continued to work in both the theater and cinematographic businesses. Some of her best known roles in the stage musicals were in Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and The King and I. In film, she appeared in Something for Everyone (1970,) the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971,) Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile (1978,) The Lady Vanishes (1979) and The Mirror Crack’d (1980.) Angela rose to international fame when she was cast in TV detective series Murder, She Wrote in 1984, running for 12 seasons until 1996. In 1991, she returned to voice acting (after doing The Last Unicorn, in 1982) for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, also singing the animated film’s iconic song, which won multiple accolades and was an international success. A few years later, Angela lent her voice to Don Bluth’s Anastasia (1997.) After a brief hiatus due to personal issues, Lansbury resumed her career, appearing in fantasy children’s film Nanny McPhee (2005) and returning to Broadway in 2007, leading the play Deuce. Since then, Angela has appeared in numerous plays, both in Broadway and the West End, as well as film and television appearances, such as movie sequel Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and guest star roles in American TV series Law & Order and BBC’s Little Women (2017).
In 2014, Lansbury was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout the course of her career, Angela has been nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Primetime Emmy Awards and even Grammy Awards and has won BAFTA, Tony Awards as well as Golden Globes and Olivier Award for her performances and services to the entertainment industry for over eighty years.
On October 11th 2022, Angela passed away in her sleep, five days before her 97th birthday.