Biography (1987– )
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Angela Lansbury: A Balancing Act 

Oscar nominations for evil roles typecast Angela Lansbury early on.


John Griffin


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Episode credited cast:
Bea Arthur ... Herself (archive footage)
Tom Bosley ... Himself
Carol Channing ... Herself
John Frankenheimer ... Himself
Hurd Hatfield ... Himself
Jerry Herman ... Himself
Van Johnson ... Himself
Angela Lansbury ... Herself
Edgar Lansbury Edgar Lansbury ... Himself
Moyna MacGill ... Herself
Delbert Mann ... Himself


Oscar nominations for evil roles typecast Angela Lansbury early on.

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Release Date:

13 September 1998 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Features Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Angela Brigid Lansbury Launches Three Multi-Dimensional Careers
15 May 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Jerry Orbach hosts a March 03, 2000, rebroadcast of this episode from a television police station set, featuring a scene with Angela Lansbury, Cotter Smith and himself in "MSW: One Good Bid Deserves a Murder (#2.17) (1986)."

Peter Graves narrates this account of the life and "three careers" of Angela Brigid Lansbury, from her childhood in pre-WWII UK, through her arrival in the States, to her triumphs on Broadway, in Hollywood, and on television.

Parents, Irish Actress Moyna MacGill and British Lumber Marketer Edgar Lansbury welcome Isolde (Moyna's daughter from a previous marriage), daughter Angela, and twin sons, Edgar Jr. and Bruce, to the family, but Edgar Sr. passes at a young age, before Angela enrolls in Webber Douglas School of Singing and Dramatic Art, before Moyna relocates with her three youngest children to the U.S.A. on the eve of the London Blitz of WWII.

This episode follows Angela's career into show business and offers many highlights of the decades of her triumphs and tragedies to follow, including....

* Moyna and Angela accept sales positions at Bullocks Wilshire department store in Los Angeles after their arrival in Hollywood.

* Angela serves as a distributor of smelling salts at the theatre in which Moyna acts in Horror-theme Plays.

* Director George Cukor rejects Angela's MGM screen test, but Studio Executive Louis B. Mayer soon orders him to "Find that girl!"

* This episode claims that Angela's fame as an actress soon eclipses Moyna's, but in the U.K., Angela never reaches the fame throughout the 20th Century of her paternal grandfather, Labour Party leader George Lansbury.

* A series of tragedies strikes Angela's family, with a 1970 fire, which destroys her Los Angeles residence, before the passing of her beloved Moyna, while her two younger children become involved in dangerous counterculture activities.

* Angela purchases a modest residence in County Cork, Ireland, to rehabilitate her children, and soon receives raves with her versatile second career upon her return to Broadway.

* Angela's third career thrives on television, with her most famous role, as Mystery author/sleuth Jessica Fletcher, on "Murder, She Wrote."

* Angela isn't the first choice to play the role of Jessica Fletcher, but the opening credit clips with her at the typewriter are derived from Angela's "Murder, She Wrote" screen test.

* A 1994 TV Guide readers' poll cites Angela as the only star to receive a 100% lovability quotient, as the star of the longest Mystery Drama series to date.

* Angela says that her film career remains a matter of "unfinished business," as she looks forward to that "one role" which may define her film acting career.

Angela's marriages are with Richard Cromwell (1945–46) and Peter Shaw (1949–2003), with whom she welcomes step-son, David Shaw, son, Anthony Peter Pullen Shaw, and daughter, Deirdre Angela Shaw.

Angela's song and dance performance clips here include "How'd You Like To Spoon With Me?" and "Mame."

Theatre performances discussed here include Angela's roles in "Hotel Paradiso" (1957), "A Taste of Honey" (1960-61), "Anyone Can Whistle" (1964), "Mame" (1966-68), "Dear World Countess" (1969), "Gypsy" (1973-74), and "Sweeney Todd" (1979-80).

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Angela Lansbury, Actress Carol Channing, Actors Tom Bosley, Hurd Hatfield and Van Johnson, John Frankenheimer (Director), Jerry Herman (Composer/Lyricist), Alexander H. Cohen (Theatrical Producer), Martin Gottfried (Biographer: "A Balancing Act"), Bud Grant (Former CBS President), Edgar Lansbury (Brother/Producer), and Frank Rich (New York Times Columnist). (Delbert Mann, credited as guest, does not seem to appear in this episode.)

Archive footage appearances includes Angela Lansbury, Moyna MacGill, George Lansbury, Charles Boyer, Judy Garland, Richard Cromwell, Spencer Tracy, Raymond Burr, Peter Shaw, Laurence Harvey, Cynthia Harris and Arthur Hill.

Film and Television Clips include a screen glimpse of Angela through the years, in scenes from "Nothing Else Matters" (1920) (Moyna), "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" (1935) (Cromwell), "Gaslight" (1944), "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945), "The Harvey Girls" (1946), "The Hoodlum Saint" (1946), "Till the Clouds Roll By" (1946), "State of the Union" (1948), "Samson and Delilah" (1949), "Mutiny" (1952), "Four Star Playhouse: A String of Beads" (1954), "Please Murder Me" (1956), "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1960), "All Fall Down" (1962), "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), "The 25th Annual Tony Awards" (song performance from "Mame") (1971) (TV), "The 29th Annual Tony Awards" (1975) (TV), "The Mirror Crack'd" (1980), "MSW: Sing a Song of Murder (#2.5) (1985)," "MSW: It Runs in the Family (#4.6) (1987)," "MSW: Hannigan's Wake (#7.4) (1990)," "Mrs. Santa Claus" (1996) (TV), "Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest" (1997) (TV), plus Newsreal coverage of Angela and Peter's wedding day (1949), and "Positive Moves" (self-improvement video) (1988).

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