Sunday, July 1, 2012

Angela Lansbury Biography

Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born 16 October 1925) is an English-born US-naturalized actress and singer in theatre, television, and motion pictures. Her career has spanned eight decades and earned an unsurpassed number of performance Tony Awards (tied with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald), with five wins. Her first film appearance was in the film Gaslight (1944) as a conniving maid, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Among her other films are The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Anastasia (1997).

She expanded her repertoire to Broadway musicals and television in the 1950s and was particularly successful in Broadway productions of Gypsy, Mame and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Lansbury is perhaps best known to modern audiences for her twelve-year run starring as writer and sleuth Jessica Fletcher on the American television series Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996). Her recent roles include Lady Adelaide Stitch in the film Nanny McPhee (2005), Leona Mullen in the 2007 Broadway play Deuce, Madame Arcati in the 2009 Broadway revival of the play Blithe Spirit and Madame Armfeldt in the 2010 Broadway revival of the musical A Little Night Music.

Lansbury has won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, and has been nominated for numerous other industry awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress on three occasions, and nineteen Emmy Awards.

Angela Lansbury

Early life
Lansbury was born in Poplar, London, to Northern Irish-born actress Moyna MacGill and timber merchant and politician Edgar Lansbury, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and former mayor of the London Borough of Poplar. Her paternal grandfather was the Labour Party leader George Lansbury. She is the elder sister of twins Edgar Lansbury and Bruce Lansbury, both producers, and a cousin of the late English animator and puppeteer Oliver Postgate. Another cousin was the academic and novelist Coral Lansbury, whose son is former Australian federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Her earliest theatrical influences were the teenaged actress Deanna Durbin, screen star Irene Dunne and Lansbury's mother, who encouraged her daughter's ambition by taking her to plays at the Old Vic. She attended South Hampstead High School for Girls, the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1939–40, and the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York from 1940-42. Following her father's death from stomach cancer in 1934, her mother became involved with a Scotsman named Leckie Forbes, and the two merged their families under one roof in Hampstead. A former colonel with the British Army in India, Forbes proved to be a jealous and suspicious tyrant who ruled the household with an iron fist.

Angela Lansbury

Just prior to the London Blitz, Lansbury's mother took her children to New York City. They arrived in NY on August 25, 1940. When her mother settled in Hollywood following a tour of a Noël Coward play, Lansbury (and later her brothers) joined her there. Lansbury worked at the Bullocks Wilshire department store in Los Angeles. At one of the parties that her mother hosted for British émigré performers in their Laurel Canyon home, Lansbury met the casting director for the upcoming film Gaslight (1944), and he offered her the part of Nancy Oliver, Ingrid Bergman's conniving maid. This was the 18-year-old Lansbury's first film role. She was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and the following year gained another nomination for her performance as the doomed Sibyl Vane in the film The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945).

Angela Lansbury

Personal life
In 1945, Lansbury married American actor Richard Cromwell when he was 35 and she was 19. Cromwell was bisexual, and the marriage dissolved after a year, but the two reportedly remained friends. In 1949, Lansbury married British-born actor and businessman Peter Shaw. She had two children, Anthony Peter Shaw (born January 7, 1952) and Deidre Angela Shaw (born April 26, 1953). Shaw was instrumental in guiding and managing Lansbury's career. They were married for 54 years until his death in January 2003.

Lansbury became a naturalized US citizen in 1951.

She is the mother of two, stepmother of one and a grandmother. A fire destroyed the family's Malibu home in September 1970, prompting a move to a rural area of County Cork in Ireland. Her daughter and son-in-law, a chef, are restaurateurs in West Los Angeles. Her son Anthony Shaw, after a brief fling with acting, became producer/director of Murder, She Wrote and currently is a television executive and director.

Lansbury's half-sister Isolde was married to Peter Ustinov for some years, but they divorced in 1946. Lansbury and Ustinov appeared together once in Death on the Nile (1978). She is related by marriage to actress Ally Sheedy, ex-wife of her nephew David Lansbury. Both her brothers, twins Bruce and Edgar, are successful theatre producers: Edgar was instrumental in bringing Godspell to Broadway, and Bruce Lansbury was a television producer for such shows as The Wild Wild West and Mission: Impossible and Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury

Lansbury was a long-time resident of Brentwood, a neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, where she supported various philanthropies. She had knee-replacement surgery on July 14, 2005. She had two hip replacement surgeries. In 2006, she moved to New York City, purchasing a condominium at a reported cost of $2 million. The following year, she returned to Broadway in Deuce, opposite Marian Seldes. Lansbury's papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.

Angela Lansbury endorsed president Barack Obama for re-election saying that she will be voting for him.

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