Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Humanitarian of the Week: Angela Lansbury

Born in Poplar, London, to actress Moyna MacGill and communist party member, Edgar Lansbury, Angela Brigid Lansbury inherited her mother’s theatrical nature. When Edgar Lansbury passed away from stomach cancer, Moyna MacGill married a Scotsman who ended up being abusive to the family. They fled to Canada, and, then to New York where Angela’s love of drama really flourished. Moyna MacGill traveled to Hollywood on a fundraising tour for Noel Coward. Angela and her brothers joined their mother in California, and Angela began working at Bullocks Wilshire Department Store. One evening, at one of her mother’s parties, young Angela met a casting director who thought she might be perfect for a part in an upcoming film starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. The film was Gaslight. And, of course, Lansbury was perfect for the part of Nancy Oliver—the tarty maid with an eye for Boyer. For Angela’s first film, she also received her first Academy Award nomination—a nomination which would be followed by another the following year for her portrayal of the doomed Sybil Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray opposite Hurd Hatfield.

And, thus, began a very successful film career with starring roles for Angela Lansbury in pictures which include: The Three Muskateets, Samson and Delilah, All Fall Down, the Manchurian Candidate, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Pirates of Penzance and Beauty and the Beast among many others. Throughout these decades, Miss Lansbury was also a tremendous success on Broadway starring in Mame, Gypsy, Sweeny Todd and Blithe Spirit—just to name a few.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

Interestingly enough, despite her impressive body of work, she’s known to most people as Jessica Fletcher in the 1980’s-era murder-mystery program, Murder She Wrote. With tremendous success and countless awards to her credit, Lansbury prefers to use her talents not for her own personal gain, however. Angela Lansbury has, instead, devoted her life to doing good works, using her fame to make impassioned pleas to other people to also contribute their time and efforts to causes such as Muscular Dystrophy, Breast Cancer, The Actors' Fund, ALS and AIDS.

In 2006, Angela Lansbury returned to New York and to Broadway, and to this day, continues to help raise funds for and awareness of the many causes which she champions. For her selfless spirit, bright outlook and unceasing kindness, Angela Lansbury is this week’s “Humanitarian of the Week.”

1 comment:

Nostalgically Yours said...

I adore this woman! Thank you for giving this little biography. Great woman, great post!