Angela Lansbury, the London-born actress whose career spanned eight decades and included hits in film (“The Manchurian Candidate”), TV (“Murder, She Wrote”) and theater (“Mame” and “Sweeney Todd”), has died at age 96.
Her family announced her death, saying she died early Tuesday morning “peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles.”
A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined for Lansbury, who would have turned 97 on Sunday.
One of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Lansbury first rose to fame as an MGM player who nabbed Academy Award nominations for her first films roles, in 1944’s “Gaslight” and 1945’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
In 1962, she earned another Oscar nomination for “The Manchurian Candidate” playing the scheming mother of a war hero — played by an actor, Laurence Harvey, who was only three years younger than she was. (She would later pick up an honorary Academy Award in 2013.) A decade later, she earned back-to-back Golden Globe nominations for two very different films — the 1970 black comedy “Something for Everyone” opposite Michael York and the 1971 Disney film “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”
Though she was the rare film star who regularly appeared on TV throughout the 1950s and ’60s, she found new fame in the 1980s and ’90s starring as mystery writer-turned-sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the long-running CBS mystery series “Murder, She Wrote.” The show cemented her fame — and her public persona as a genial but no-nonsense type — and earned her 12 consecutive Emmy Award nominations, one for each season. She picked up six additional Emmy nominations during her career — but never won a competitive award.
She was more successful on Broadway, where she earned a total of five Tony Awards for her work in a string of hit musicals beginning with “Mame” in 1966, followed by “Dear World” (1969), “Gypsy” (1975) and Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” (1979) — where she originated the role of the vagrant-killing meat-pie-shop owner Mrs. Lovett.
Following the long run of “Murder, She Wrote” in 1996, Lansbury continued working on both stage and screen. She had appeared in selective projects while on the show — she voiced the singing teapot Mrs. Potts who croons the title song in Disney’s animated 1991 hit “Beauty and the Beast” — but capitalized on her small-screen success with a series of grandmotherly roles in films like 2005’s “Nanny McPhee,” the 2011 Jim Carrey vehicle “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and 2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns.”
She also returned to Broadway after a two-decade-plus absence — earning three more Tony nominations and winning her fifth as the clairvoyant Madame Arcati in a 2009 revival of Noel Coward’s comedy “Blithe Spirit.”
Lansbury is survived by her three children, Anthony, Deirdre and David, three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine and Ian, plus five great grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury. She was proceeded in death by her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw.