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Angela Lansbury, Hollywood icon, dies at 96 years old

She conquered our hearts with her roles in iconic films like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

British actress Angela Lansbury, star of the iconic series Murder, She Wrote and films such as Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray, died Tuesday at the age of 96 in Los Angeles (USA). Her death, in the early hours of the morning, came just five days short of her 97th birthday, her family recalled in a statement released by People magazine.

Lansbury, who became a familiar face on the small screen for playing novelist Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, was nominated up to three times for an Oscar for supporting roles - Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate - and won an honorary statuette in 2013, awarded by the Hollywood Academy.

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Who was Angela Lansbury?

Born in London in 1925, she fled with her mother from World War II and moved to New York in 1940, where after studying acting she landed several roles on Broadway until winning her first Tony Award in 1996 for the musical Mame. He would go on to win four more, plus an honorary one in 2022.

Before touching the glory on Broadway, he signed with MGM studios in Hollywood to be part of the cast of eleven films, although always in supporting roles after which his contract was not renewed. Of her time in the movie mecca, the actress later recalled that the agreement imposed numerous limitations and she never had the power of decision when it came to accepting or rejecting jobs.

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In the 1970s, Lansbury returned to the British Isles and appeared in plays until, after playing Salome Otterbourne in the film Death on the Nile, she was signed by CBS in 1984 to star in Murder, She Wrote. The series, which ran for 12 consecutive years, was an international hit and boosted the popularity of Lansbury, whom most viewers remember as the writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher, a character that perfectly combined a taste for the genre and the adrenaline of the crimes she investigated.

With this role, Lansbury continued to increase her honors until she received 18 Emmy Award nominations, although the real achievement of Murder, She Wrote was to endure in time in successive decades. Still to this day, the series is part of the programming schedules of television channels around the world.

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“We found our audience and they were loyal to the end,” she explained in 1998, just as the series was saying goodbye, during an interview at the Emmy Awards in which she also highlighted the triumph of having a female character starring in a prime-time series.

The respect the American public felt for the British actress led to her being awarded the Medal of Arts at the Kennedy Center Honor. Among other popular works, Lansbury brought the sensitive Mrs. Pott to life in the animated version of Beauty and the Beast (1991) and joined Disney titles such as Anastasia (1997) and Mary Poppins Returns (2018).

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During her extensive acting career, she participated in about thirty films, fourteen plays, and two television series. In the family, she had a long marriage with the also actor Peter Shaw, from 1949 until he died in 2003, and gave birth to three children.

Although she took up residence in California, she remained linked to the United Kingdom, as in 2014 Queen Elizabeth II -with whom she shared the year of her birth-, awarded her the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) during a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

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“I am proud to be recognized in the country where I was born, and to meet the queen in these circumstances is a lovely and special occasion,” she said at the time.

Story originally published in EFE

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