They don’t make them like they used to. There’s something about the films and shows of decades past that feel so classic and iconic—and that goes for the stars, too, who brought them to life with their inimitable talents.
Luckily, there are a few legendary entertainers from the golden age still with us, including the great Dame Angela Lansbury, an icon of stage and screen. From Sweeney Todd to Murder, She Wrote to Beauty and the Beast, Lansbury has endured for decades as a favorite of audiences of all ages.
Lansbury was born October 16, 1925 in London. She had success from early in her career: she made her film debut at 18 years old in the 1944 film Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Lansbury received acclaim for her role, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
During this period also appeared in National Velvet and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which earned her a second Oscar nod.
Under contract with MGM, she was considered a “B-list” actress, but still had a few memorable big screen roles, including headlining the 1971 Disney musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Perhaps her most acclaimed dramatic film role was in the classic 1962 thriller The Manchurian Candidate, which earned her another Academy Award nomination.
But it was on the stage where Lansbury really shined.
She turned to musical theater in the 60s, originating the title role in the hit musical Mame to rave reviews, and earning her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Four more Tony Awards would follow over the decades, making her one of the most acclaimed leading ladies of the stage in history.
Of all her iconic stage roles, maybe the most enduring is her creation of the mad pie-baking Mrs. Lovett in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Many actresses have taken on the iconic musical theater role over the decades, but Lansbury remains the gold standard.
Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s SWEENEY TODD, directed by Harold Prince, at the Uris Theatre in 1979.
But of course, she’s best known for a generation of television viewers as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote.
Lansbury helped make the detective series one of the most successful and long-running television shows of all time over 12 seasons. She received 12 nominations for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a record for that category
The show is still shown in reruns around the world, earning new generations of fans.
“She’s a character known worldwide,” Lansbury told Parade of her role in the series. “She speaks every language; she’s in every country. She seems to be a universal woman that the world really likes, accepts and recognizes me for. That, I would say, was my most far-reaching role in my theatrical life.”
Happy Friday! Tomorrow starting at 1PM/12C catch back-to-back episodes of Murder, She Wrote on TV Land
And of course to a younger generation, her voice is forever linked to Beauty and the Beast, in which Lansbury voiced Mrs. Potts, providing the soundtrack to one of the most famous scenes in Disney history.
Even in her 90s, she still sings the title track better than anyone:
Lansbury continues to appear on screen: she made a memorable appearance at the end of last year’s Mary Poppins Returns.
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