Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Angela Lansbury: TCM Star of the Month and so much more

An early studio glamor shot of Angela Lansbury
Angela Brigid Lansbury was born October 16, 1925 in Poplar, London. One of the most versatile talents to come out of Hollywood, Lansbury, now in her late 80s, has had a remarkable career that has spanned eight decades. Besides her film work, Lansbury has starred on the stage and was mystery-writing sleuth, Jessica Fletcher on TV’s Murder She Wrote for 12 years.

A Star a 18!
Lansbury’s first movie role came to her at the age of 18. She played saucy maid Nancy Oliver with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in Gaslight. For her performance, Lansbury received an Academy Award nomination (first of three) for Best Supporting Actress. She didn’t win the award, but her movie career was on its way.

Contract Player
As a contract player at movie studio M-G-M, she was cast in a variety of roles, often in supporting roles or second leads. During the height of the studio system, movie players were often typecast and at M-G-M, Lansbury was typed as a supporting player, never the first choice as glamorous leading lady in spite of her beautiful leading-lady looks.

Stage, Film, and TV Successes
Perhaps not being given the top roles in Hollywood helped Lansbury develop into the wonderful character and stage actress she is today. Had she been a glamorous movie star, say like Lana Turner, her career might not have been as long. Who can forget Lansbury’s turns as disturbed mothers in both The Manchurian Candidate and All Fall Down, both released in 1962? And what about her award-winning stage performances in Mame and Gypsy? In spite of five Tony Award wins (a record she shares with Julie Harris) and numerous other awards, audiences around the world will probably remember Lansbury for her long-running role in TV’s Murder She Wrote. As the mystery writer from Cabot Cove, Maine, Landsbury became an icon of the genre. Not too shabby!

To learn more about Lansbury’s incredible movie career and to purchase some of her films on DVD, check out the Turner Classic Movies online shop. Lansbury is TCM’s January star of the month.

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