Angela Lansbury, who starred in Murder, She Wrote and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, dies

US News

Dame Angela Lansbury, who starred in the hit TV drama Murder, She Wrote, has died at the age of 96.

Her family said the actress died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles early on Tuesday, just five days shy of her birthday.

The London-born star won five Tony Awards for her Broadway performances, was nominated for three Oscars, and in 2013 she received an honorary Academy Award for her lifetime achievement in film.

On the big screen, she was known for her roles in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Anastasia (1997), and 1991’s Beauty and the Beast where she was the voice of Mrs Potts.

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From left: Claude Akins, Angela Lansbury and Tom Bosley in Murder, She Wrote in 1990s
From left: Claude Akins, Angela Lansbury and Tom Bosley in Murder, She Wrote in 1990s

In her best-known role, Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher, a writer and amateur sleuth, in Murder, She Wrote which began in 1984. The show performed well in the ratings until its 11th year.

Her mature demeanour prompted producers to cast her much older than her actual age. In 1948, when she was 23, Lansbury’s hair was streaked with grey so she could play a forty-ish newspaper publisher with a yen for Spencer Tracy in State of the Union.

She won Tony Awards for Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975) and Sweeney Todd (1979).

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In 2009 she collected her fifth Tony, for best featured actress in a revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and in 2015 won an Olivier Award in the role. Then in June this year she was honoured with a lifetime achievement Tony.

She earned Academy Award nominations as supporting actress for two of her first three films, Gaslight (1945) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1946), and was nominated again in the same category in 1962 for The Manchurian Candidate with her portrayal of a Communist agent.

She holds the record for the most Golden Globe nominations (15) and wins for best actress in a television drama series (4) and the most Emmy nominations for lead actress in a drama series (12).

Actress Angela Lansbury attends a special screening and panel discussion of 'Beauty and the Beast' to celebrate the animated film's 25th anniversary, May 9, 2016 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in Beverly Hills, California. / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview in 2008, Lansbury said she still welcomed the right script but did not want to play “old, decrepit women”.

She said: “I want women my age to be represented the way they are, which is vital, productive members of society.

“I’m astonished at the amount of stuff I managed to pack into the years that I have been in the business. And I’m still here.”

Her family said in a statement: “In addition to her three children, Anthony, Deirdre and David, she is survived by 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.

“A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined.”

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