The American-British actress Angela Lansbury, petulant grandmother-detective of the television series “Arabesque”, died yesterday at the age of 96, had illustrated herself in numerous musicals and in more than sixty films since the 1940s Nominated for the Oscars from her first role at the age of 19, she won six Golden Globes, including four for the American series “Arabesque”, where she portrayed a stainless author of detective novels, also an amateur detective in her spare time. His entire career was rewarded with an honorary Oscar in 2014.
The actress “died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles (…), just five days before her 97th birthday”, explained her family in a statement sent to many American media.
“I had an incredibly interesting and varied career that took me all around the world,” rejoiced in 2014 this British naturalized American, who has become the most famous detective novelist on the small screen.
Broadcast from 1984 to 1996 on CBS and then worldwide, “Arabesque” and its 264 episodes, received a shower of awards, Emmy Awards and Golden Globes combined. At 91, the still lively actress confided her desire to play one last time the role of Jessica Fletcher that she had agreed to play, originally, only for the money. She earned up to $300,000 per episode.
Trained in Hollywood in the 1940s to 1950s, the young Venetian blonde, with big owl eyes and a round face, did not correspond to the standards of beauty of the time and remained confined to supporting roles despite a very promising debut.
“She had a crazy talent and they didn’t know what to do with her”, lamented in 1998 Hurd Hatfield, her partner in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for which she won in 1946 the Golden Globe for best actress in a second role. “Because I was not a great beauty, I played people much older than me,” said the actress who plays Elvis Presley’s mother in the musical “Under the Blue Sun of Hawaii” ( 1961).
Born on October 16, 1925 in London, into a family of politicians (her grandfather George Lansbury led the Labor Party in the 1930s) and actors, she fled the war for the United States after her father’s death. It was his mother, an Irish actress, who allowed him through acquaintances to land his first role in “Hantise” (1944), a psychological thriller by George Cukor with Ingrid Bergman.
This role of seductive and disturbing servant earned her an Oscar nomination in a supporting role and a seven-year contract at MGM studios.
She was then 19 years old. In 1948, after a first marriage with actor Richard Cromwell, the young woman met Peter Shaw who became her impresario and her husband until his death in 2003. She temporarily slowed down her career after the birth of their two children in 1952 and 1953. It was then on Broadway that she enjoyed major success.
With “Mame” (1966), a musical comedy about wealthy New Yorkers during the Depression played more than 1,500 times, she won her first Tony Award. In 1970, she moved with her family to the Irish countryside to save her daughter and son from the influence of drugs, and for her daughter from that of guru Charles Manson as well.
The series “Arabesque” then arrives at the right time. In 2009, she received her 5th Tony Award for “L’esprit s’amuse”, a theatrical comedy taken up in London in 2014 where she declared, at 89, that she still had “excessive energy”.
Angela Lansbury leaves behind three children, three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, as well as her brother according to the press release. “A private ceremony for the family will be held on a date to be determined,” added his relatives.
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Portrait of the star of the small screen, Angela Lansbury, eternal Jessica Fletcher in the Arabesque series, who died last night: Nominated for the Oscars from her first role at 19, she won six Golden Globes