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12 October 2022

Dame Angela Lansbury , star of Murder, She Wrote, dies aged 96

12 October 2022

Tributes have been paid to “truly inspirational” Dame Angela Lansbury following her death at the age of 96.

The Irish-British and American actress was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in American drama series Murder, She Wrote.

According to a family statement, Dame Angela died “peacefully” in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who starred alongside Dame Angela in the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, said their time together will “forever be one of the joys of my life”.

In a post on Instagram, Zeta-Jones wrote: “Dearest, Darling, Dame Angela Lansbury. May you Rest In Peace.

“Our Broadway double act will forever be one of the joys of my life. As the lights dim for you on ‘The Great White Way’ you shall glow forever in our heart. Love you Angela, Catherine.”

Julian Morris starred opposite Dame Angela in 2017’s Little Women and praised her as “truly inspirational”.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, he said: “She was so forthcoming with advice. She was just an inspiration in terms of being in her 90s and knowing her craft so well.

“Knowing her lines, working, having the energy, having the care.”

Referring to an image of them together, he added: “She saw me and I was in the lunch line and she said to come and join me in her trailer.

“The two of us, we skipped the mains and went straight to dessert. And she was telling me all about her life, moving to America. It was 1940 which is hard to believe.

“She was just a wonderful, sincerely authentic person and truly inspirational.”

Antonio Banderas shared a selection of images of Dame Angela from throughout the years and wrote: “Rest In Peace” while also sharing a red rose.

Marie Osmond described her as “one of the brightest stars in the last decade” and added: “Rest in peace Angela Lansbury. The world is a better place because of you.”

West End star Elaine Paige said Dame Angela was “always so kind and generous” when they had met.

“So upset to hear the news that the legendary Dame Angela Lansbury has died,” Paige tweeted, sharing a picture of them together.

“One of the last Golden Age of Hollywood stars & a Broadway & West End icon.

With a career spanning more than eight decades, Dame Angela was a three-time Oscar nominee and five-time Tony Award winner.

She was born in London in 1925 and later moved to the US during the Second World War where she studied at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York.

Dame Angela’s first film role was in George Cukor’s Gaslight as a young maid named Nancy Oliver who worked in the home of the film’s protagonist Paula Alquist, played by Ingrid Bergman.

The then-19-year-old Dame Angela received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her role in the 1944 film.

Dame Angela garnered a great deal of recognition and is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Murder, She Wrote novelist and sleuth Jessica Fletcher – a retired school teacher from the fictional town of Cabot Cove who became a successful detective novelist after her husband’s death.

She played the character in the crime drama TV series for a total of 12 years and nine seasons, after first starring in the role in 1984.

Flowers have been placed on Dame Angela’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with the walk’s producer Ana Martinez saying: “Sadly, we have lost another Walk of Famer.

“Beloved actress Angela Lansbury has passed and Hollywood is again in mourning for the loss of another one of our very talented performers.

“We send our condolences to her family.”

In 2013, Dame Angela was given an honorary Academy Award for her lifetime achievements in the film industry and was also awarded a lifetime achievement award by Bafta in 2002.

Dame Angela was married twice, first to American actor Richard Cromwell in 1945 when she was 19 and he was 35. The couple divorced in 1946, but remained friends until Cromwell’s death in 1960.

She married her second husband, actor and producer Peter Shaw, in 1949 and they remained together until Shaw’s death in 2003. The couple had two children of their own, Anthony Peter and Deirdre Ann, and Dame Angela also became a step-mother to David, Shaw’s son from a previous relationship.

Anthony went on to become a television director and directed 68 episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

Dame Angela was made a CBE in the Queen’s 1994 birthday honours and was made a DBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to drama, charitable work and philanthropy.

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