Actress Angela Lansbury, star of ‘Murder She Wrote’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ dies at 96

(ABC News) – British actress Angela Lansbury, whose career spanned seven decades and earned her an honorary Academy Award, has died.

Lansbury died Tuesday, according to her family. She was 96 years old.

“The children of Dame Angela Lansbury are sad to announce that their mother died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1:30 AM today, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, just five days shy of her 97th birthday,” the family said in a statement.

Lansbury, born in 1925, was the daughter of Irish actress Moyna Macgill and British politician Edgar Lansbury. Her paternal grandfather was George Lansbury, a founder of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party.

At age 9, Lansbury’s father died — a moment that she’s said in interviews shaped her life. The actress’ family then fled the U.K. in 1940 during World War II, moving to the United States where she began her acting career.

After signing to MGM in 1942, Lansbury’s first acting gig was “Gaslight” in 1944, a role that earned her an Oscar nomination. The actress went on to earn two other Oscar nods for roles in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in 1945 and “The Manchurian Candidate” in 1962. Lansbury eventually was awarded an honorary trophy in 2013.

Thanks to roles on both sides of the pond, Lansbury went on to amass five Tony Awards and six Golden Globes. She was also nominated 19 times for Emmy Awards. In 2014, she was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II.

Lansbury is best known for her role as mystery writer Jessica Fletcher in the popular TV series “Murder, She Wrote.” Four years into the series, which started in 1984, Lansbury’s Corymore Productions began to co-produce the series with Universal. Lansbury owned the series and became its executive producer during the show’s last four seasons. The show ended its run in 1996 after 12 seasons on TV.

Lansbury married her husband, the late British actor Peter Shaw, in 1949. The couple had two children.

“We were a unit. We didn’t shut out the world but we were almost too self-contained,” she told the outlet. “He totally controlled my career as time went by and made it possible for me to do what I did — we managed it somehow, someway.”

The two were married until he died in 2003, but it wasn’t Lansbury’s first marriage. In 1945, Lansbury married actor Richard Cromwell at age 19. The marriage ended months later and the actress filed for divorce on Sept. 11, 1946.

Lansbury told The Telegraph that after the marriage dissolved, she was informed that Cromwell was gay.

“It was a terrible shock. I was devastated,” she said of learning her ex-husband was gay. “But once I got over the shock, I said, ‘All right then, I’m going to take charge of my life and see that I never hurt like this again.'”

Still, Lansbury and Cromwell remained friendly until his death in 1960.

Following her hit TV series, Lansbury made many appearances in films, such as voicing Mrs. Potts in the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast.” She also appeared in the 2005 film “Nanny McPhee” and the 2011 film “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Lansbury also returned to Broadway in 2007 after a 23-year hiatus by starring in “Deuce.”

She even returned to television, starring in a season six episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” Her appearance earned her an Emmy Award nomination in 2005.

Lansbury is survived by her children Anthony and Deirdre, along with three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.