Some people seem like they’ll be here forever … until they’re not. Happily, their voices and their magic will live on.
Angela Lansbury, a multigenerational star of stage and screen, died Tuesday at 96. She was born in 1925, and by 1945 she already had her first Oscar nomination for her very first role: Nancy Oliver in “Gaslight,” the George Cukor classic whose title has become a verb in the English lexicon. You can see Lansbury alongside Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman in that film on HBO Max.
Angela Lansbury starred in 1962’s “The Manchurian Candidate,” John Frankenheimer’s landmark political thriller.
She was nominated again for 1962’s “The Manchurian Candidate,” John Frankenheimer’s landmark political thriller. Lansbury plays a villainous senator’s wife with her eyes on the presidency; Frank Sinatra plays the Army major trying to piece together a communist conspiracy. You can watch it for free on Tubi. (Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake with Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington is great, too; that’s on Paramount+ and PlutoTV.)
On stage, Lansbury’s Mrs. Lovett made “the worst pies in London” for Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” A 1982 filmed version of the production starring Lansbury and George Hearn as Sweeney Todd was a PBS staple for many years and is available for digital rental on Amazon Prime Video, starting at $3.99.
Actress Angela Lansbury met the press in Chicago to talk about her play “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” which played at the Arie Crown Theater in February 1981. – Daily Herald File Photo, 1981 by signing up you agree to our terms of service
Later in the 1980s came “Murder, She Wrote,” a ratings monster for CBS that cast Lansbury as mystery writer (and mystery solver) Jessica Fletcher. It ran for 12 seasons, from 1984 to 1996, and you can watch its 265 episodes free with ads on The Roku Channel or Freevee, or ad-free with a Peacock subscription. (I cued up a random Season 1 episode and saw a familiar face: Joaquin Phoenix, then just 10 years old and going by the name Leaf.)
And then there’s Lansbury’s work with Disney, streaming on Disney+. Hear her sing the title song as Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast,” or see her fighting Nazis with a reanimated ghost army in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.” (Yes, that one’s as awesome as it sounds.) One of her final screen appearances came in 2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a small cameo as a woman selling balloons in the park.
• Sean Stangland is an assistant news editor who watches the YouTube video of Angela Lansbury singing “Beauty and the Beast” backed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir whenever he needs a good cry.