Murder, She Wrote star Dame Angela Lansbury celebrates her 95th birthday tomorrow with family, reflecting on a long life well lived.
The actress, best known as amateur detective Jessica Fletcher in the classic US series, told the Mirror how she will be marking the big day at her home in the US, in true lockdown style.
The great-gran said: “What a fortunate life I’ve had the pleasure to be part of, doing the thing I most enjoy – acting and entertaining great audiences all over the world.
“I feel fortunate indeed to be able to celebrate my 95th birthday with my dearest family here in California. I am fortunate to be able to stay safe and my heart goes out to all those who are suffering or have lost loved ones.”
Angela is unlikely to be slowing down. She has previously said: “I’ve never been particularly aware of my age.
“It’s like being on a bicycle – I just put my foot down and keep going. I never think of running out of steam.”
It is 78 years since she landed her first Hollywood deal, signing to MGM at 17.
She was nominated for an Oscar for her first role, as the maid in 1944 classic Gaslight, and went on to work with stars including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
She played Jessica in Murder, She Wrote from 1984 until 1996.
But there is more to her story than Hollywood. She grew up in London, the granddaughter of working-class hero George Lansbury, who led Labour from 1932 to 1935.
Angela has previously said the peace campaigner was her greatest inspiration, adding: “This was the man who tried to stop the Second World War. He went and spoke with the leaders – Mussolini, Hitler, Roosevelt. He didn’t give up. Many people feel it killed him.”
Her grandmother, Bessie, was a suffragette and dad Edgar was a Communist mayor in Poplar, East London, who died of cancer when Angela was nine.
At 15, mum Moyna Macgill, a former West End actress, took Angela to New York to escape the Blitz and from there she went to Hollywood.
At 19, she wed 35-year-old actor Richard Cromwell but it ended less than a year later.
Angela then fell for British actor Peter Shaw. They had two children, Anthony and Deidre.
Peter died of heart failure aged 84 in 2003, after 54 years’ marriage.
Angela has said: “I think I’m interested in every part of life – not just acting… my grandchildren, my life, cooking, driving.”
Her only regret has been not spending enough time with her family in the past.
She explained: “Wanting to take the things that are dear and warm and loving – my family – and then having to do my job. You can’t do it all.” But she is certainly making up for it now.
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