LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Award-winning actress Angela Lansbury, perhaps best known for her role as mystery novelist and sleuth Jessica Fletcher on the series “Murder, She Wrote,” but also remembered for her voice role as teapot Mrs. Potts in Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast,” died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 96.
In a statement, her family announced that Lansbury “died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1:30 a.m. … just five days shy of her 97th birthday.”
“In addition to her three children, Anthony, Deirdre, and David, she is survived by three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine and Ian, plus five great grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury,” according to the family statement. “She was proceeded in death by her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw. A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined.”
The London-born Lansbury was a five-time Tony Award winner, most notably for her ghoulish role in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” She also scored Tonys for her work in “Blithe Spirit,” “Gypsy,” Mame and “Dear World.”
She was a three-time Oscar nominee, for her roles in 1962’s “The Manchurian Candidate,” 1946’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and 1944’s “Gaslight,” her first film role. She received an honorary Oscar in 2014. She was an 18-time Emmy nominee — mostly for her work on “Murder, She Wrote,” but she never won.
Born and raised in London, she moved to the United States with her family in the 1940s to escape war brewing in Europe, and she continued her studies in drama and acting in New York. They moved to Los Angeles in 1942 as her mother, Irish actress Moyna Macgill, looked to resume her film career. Through her mother, Lansbury met “Gaslight” screenwriter John Van Druten, who helped get her cast in the film, launching her career.
She appeared in dozens of films over the years, including “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “The Lady Vanishes,” “The Mirror Crack’d,” “The Company of Wolves” and her memorable voice turn in “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Murder, She Wrote” was a hit for CBS for 12 years, running from 1984 to 1996. Lansbury enticed audiences with her role as Fletcher, a mystery writer and small-town sleuth.
She worked steadily into her 90s, most recently appearing in the 2018 Disney sequel “Mary Poppins Returns,” along with the 2017 miniseries “Little Women.”