She is omniscient, intrusive, inquisitive and extremely smart. She also has an extensive family and an infinite number of acquaintances and friends, who should be careful of her. If he finds himself nearby, either their lives or their reputation are in jeopardy, as they are very likely to be charged with murder. However, she always solves it quickly and moves somewhere else, or returns to her beloved town of Cabot Cove.
Everyone knows detective writer and amateur investigator Jessica Fletcher. And whoever, especially from the younger years, did not watch the series “It’s murder, she wrote”, certainly did not miss on social networks a gif with a lady with wide eyes, who is tensely loaded with popcorn.
Its representative, actress Angela Lansbury, celebrated her 95th birthday on October 16. It is one of the last legends of the golden era of Hollywood after the deaths of Kirk Douglas and Olivia de Havilland, almost ten years older, this year. And by the way – Angela Lansbury is still active.
“When I die, they will have to take me off the scene,” she said a long time ago as she celebrated 45 years of her career. That is, about thirty years ago.
He still plays, albeit occasionally. Last year, for example, she appeared on Broadway in The Importance of Having Philip as Lady Bracknell, starring in two films, including the new Marry Poppins, a year earlier, when in the third film, this time about Mr. Grinch, she lent the voice of one of the characters.
In the same year, the star-studded television series Little Women premiered, where she played Aunt March (the same role was played by Meryl Streep in the film a year later – a coincidence that will still be important).
And it was at this time in an interview with Parade magazine that she said: “But you know that one day I will retire and spend the rest of my years only with my loved ones. But for now, even if it doesn’t look promising at times, I always get together and go play. “And as he jokes about his longevity,” everyone is surprised to be here. “
The latter is due to one of the three injustices associated with the career of an exceptionally talented actress with Irish-British roots. Above all: that Hollywood forced her to grow old prematurely.
On the screen in America, where she and her family escaped from Great Britain before the war, she made her debut in 1944 in the Victorian psychothriller Gas Lamp (Gaslight) in the role of a treacherous maid who tries to distract her mistress’s man. What about the fact that he’s a bully, even so good that the title of the film got into technical terminology. Gaslighting is a form of mental and emotional abuse in which a manipulator convinces his victim that he is not mentally OK and that he lacks common sense.
As a minor, Lansbury had to be accompanied on the set by a social worker. However, the role was so good that she immediately received an Oscar nomination for her performance in the supporting role.
By the way, thanks to that, Angela Lansbury holds the record – she is the person who was the most recently nominated. She did not change the nomination, Ingrid Bergman in the lead role did. And so another story of injustice began to be written. Lansbury was nominated for countless awards, but despite her undeniable talent, she collected few due to the number of nominations.
The third injustice, then, is that the whole world perceives her only as Jessica Fletcher, even though her talent goes far beyond an ordinary series about who did it this time.
But back to the story of premature aging. The other two films in which she acted were also “blockbusters”. In The National Velvet, she met young Elizabeth Taylor and became lifelong friends. Their film colleague Anne Revere won an Oscar for her supporting role. Which she blew out for the second time nominated by Lansbury for her portrayal of Sibyl Vane in Dorian Gray’s Painting. Her consolation could be the first Golden Globe.
All of these successes for Lansbury earned a contract at MGM Studios. And there, as “the British”, she was given inferior roles and mostly characters much older than her age.
She remembered it herself, saying, “When I was twenty, I was written by fans who thought I was forty.” And that dragged on for a long time, even after she terminated her contract with MGM.
As a freelance actress and also the mother of two small children, she took on a role after leaving a powerful studio. She spoke of the films from that time (specifically the Red Mask from the Napoleonic era) as the worst she had ever made. But she added that she needed work on the one hand, and “you never know how a bad role can lead you to the one you desire and take you to the heights.”
And that’s what happened. Several films from the late 1960s re-classified her as she belonged – among the so-called A-actresses. For her political neonoir thriller Manchurian Candidate, where she played an ambitious mother and a cruel political conspirator, she received her last Oscar nomination. Unchanged again, which she said was most saddened. And again with consolation in the form of the Golden Globe. Just on the sidelines: in the remake of the 2004 film, this hellish mother is played by the aforementioned Meryl Streep.
He eventually received the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Speaking of those “important coincidences”, it was handed over to her in 2013 by Emma Thompson. Even these two actresses connect several threads. Lansbury lent Mrs. Konvičková’s voice in the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast. Thanks to her singing of the final song, the film’s soundtrack also made it to the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
As we have become accustomed to with this lady – and she is indeed the Lady of the Order of the British Empire – the nomination has not been changed.
Emma Thompson plays and sings the same role in the feature version with Emma Watson in the lead role.
In addition, Thompson and Lansbury are girlfriends. And that’s why the legendary Jessica Fletcher eagerly took on the role of the terrible aunt Adelaide in the fairy-tale film The Nanny McPhee’s Magical Nanny, for which Thompson wrote the screenplay herself.
The fact that she played an unpleasant woman in a family film was nothing new to Lansbury. “I’m what the character actress is sublimely called in the industry. Normally, this means that you can simply play a person with whom you have nothing but nothing in common. Perhaps the only role that cannot be described as characteristic for me is Jessica Fletcher, “she said in Larry King’s show.
Another similarly established lady prepared the way for everything from the small town. Specifically, Miss Marple, already portrayed by Lansbury in the star-studded film Broken Mirror. And while her friend Liz Taylor plays an enchanting career-restoring star there and, as a femme fatale in expensive costumes, she walks her own jewelry of unimaginable value, as she used to, only seven-year-old Lansbury, then 55, represents an old woman with a make-up face so wrinkled that perhaps even today he has fresher skin.
She was originally supposed to star in two more films based on Agatha Christie’s books, but it fell through. And maybe that’s why in 1983 she chose a detective series rather than a sitcom from two television offers.
Behind Jessica Fletcher’s stories was a team that had previously celebrated success with Detective Columbus, and this time it wasn’t wrong either. The series may have had mixed reviews at first, but the popularity was immense. She re-performed in twelve seasons and each time came nominated for an Emmy TV Award.
If you’re guessing it’s unchanged, you’re guessing right. But again came the patch in the form of the Golden Globe, when out of ten consecutive nominations, four ended with a thank-you speech.
Despite the fact that Fletcher’s role has overwhelmed all her other work, Lansbury loves her. “If it’s my legacy, why not. People all over the world love her and I fully understand that. The success of the series lies in the fact that you see only search, no blood, or brutal murder, “she described in an interview with the BBC.
At the same time, the biggest acting opportunities as well as the Lansbury award came from the theater boards. In the 1960s, when film didn’t give her the best space, she was discovered by Broadway. She earned the Tony Award for her role in the musical Mame, for which she went four more times. The last time was in 2009. And it was the musical that made her a big star.
“The feeling of your face riding on buses all over the city and New York loving you for what you’re showing on stage will engulf you. And it immediately takes you back on stage. So it’s such a circle, “she described her feelings in Angela Lansbury’s portrait book: A Life on Stage and Screen.
But at that time she also experienced unhappy times. Her children, whom she had with her second husband Peter Shaw, were trafficked by drugs, and her daughter Deirdre and Charles Manson’s sect. For a time, therefore, Lansbury withdrew back to Europe. To Great Britain, where she played in London’s West End with the Shakespearean Society, and also to Ireland. “No one knew me there at all. I was just Mrs. Shaw, those were great times, “she later described in her authorized biography by Martin Gottfried.
Ireland and theater were a return to its roots for her. Her mother, Moyna MacGill, was an Irish actress and also brought her daughter to acting and singing. Edgar Lansbury’s father was again a British politician and businessman, as was his father George. Lansbury had a very warm relationship with her grandfather. He became a key male role model for her, because her father died when she was only nine years old. Through George Lansbury, a leading Labor representative, she emphasized her British roots even after she became an American citizen in the 1950s.
By the way – the whole family gravitated towards art. Her blood brothers Edgar and Bruce became theater and film producers. The older half-sister of Isolde from her mother’s first marriage was also an actress and the first wife of Peter Ustinov. Lansbury encountered this on screen in Death on the Nile – he was a detective, Hercul Poirot, and she was the eternally drunk writer of scandalous books, Salom Otterbourne.
On the contrary, scandals avoided her career. “As a child and young girl, I was very tidy, until I lost a lot of fun. And later I was still working, “Margaret Bonnan quotes her in the biography.
A minor misstep came at the beginning, when her first marriage to Richard Cromwell ended after a year. But when he tried to overcome homosexuality with her by marrying her, it couldn’t have happened otherwise.
On the contrary, she had a long and happy relationship with Shaw, whom she married in 1949, which it did not end until his death in 2003.
The second “trouble” came three years ago when, in an interview with the British station RadioTimes, she said, among other things, that women should admit that they are partly to blame for cases of sexual harassment when trying to look as attractive as possible.
Back then, sexual harassment was one of the top issues due to the scandal surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein. She earned harsh criticism that she was “from other times” and that “old age was a sign of her judgment.”
She herself spoke quite harshly in her defense, saying that she was shocked at how words taken out of context turned against her. Which was right, because she also said in the interview itself that she certainly didn’t mean to say that “perhaps women should be prepared to be attacked, because there is no excuse for that.” She also pointed out that she is a lifelong advocate of women’s rights. After all, she herself paved the way for them in the tinsel world of show business when, as one of the first actresses, she figured out that she would be a co-producer of her series. And last year she lectured for the League of Theater Professionals.