Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Angela Lansbury (1925-2022)

 Angela Lansbury died earlier today. She was born in London, but her family moved to the United States due to German bombing in World War II; she studied acting in New York. Her mother, Moyna Macgill, was a well known actress and Lansbury eventually followed her to Hollywood, and happened, through her mother, to meet John van Druten, the Hollywood scriptwriter, who recommended her for a movie for which he had just written a script: Gaslight, in which Lansbury played the cunning maid. The role, very first, set her on a fullscale career, and also (it might be argued) contributed to preventing her from becoming a typical starlet leading lady. It set her up for villainous roles. This meant that she spent years of acting as a B-list actress in movies in which she was often poorly utilized, and she soon became typecast playing characters who were supposed to be much older than she was, but it also may have set her up for her very long career in a way that leading-lady roles might not have. A series of good roles in successful movies beginning in the late 50s made her one of the most recognized Hollywood faces of the 60s, and she had a number of successes on the stage, as well. Beginning in 1984, she became Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, which while having mixed critical reviews remained one of the most popular television shows for the rest of the decade, repeatedly doing better in ratings for its timeslot than anything other networks could put up against it.

When you look at both the variety and the number of roles she played, whether in movies, on the stage, or on television, they are staggering. Very few actresses have made such an expansive mark on the world as she.