Angela Lansbury recently sat down with Studio 10’s Craig Bennett in Australia for an interview reflecting on her 75-year career.
Lansbury began at MGM, starring in Gaslight (her film debut that earned her an Oscar nomination in 1945) and then National Velvet alongside Elizabeth Taylor—one of her dearest friends throughout her life. “When you share something when you're very young ... we were kids together and we remained friends all our careers,” she said.
Bennett touched upon Lansbury’s career in family titles like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which Lansbury feels is beloved not due to her. “I think mainly because of the children. Children are the key to audiences’ interest and participation,” she said.
Of course, Lansbury is beloved by television audiences, as well, for her leading lady on Murder, She Wrote. “My husband Peter and I decided it was time to consider possibly doing a television series,” said Lansbury. Her character, Jessica Fletcher, was intended to be an eccentric woman, but Lansbury had ideas of her own. “I thought no. Let's make her a smart woman. And by the time we were finished she'd gotten back her sense of purpose as a woman. ... She became much more of an everywoman rather than a kind of a cook."
All in all, Lansbury was nominated for 18 Primetime Emmys, including two nominations for hosting the 41st and 43rd Annual Tony Awards in 1987 and 1989. She has hosted the Broadway’s biggest night five times in her career, the most of any other host.
With 14 Broadway credits—including her 1957 debut in Hotel Paradiso, 1964’s Anyone Can Whistle, 1977’s The King & I, and 2009’s A Little Night Music—the actor holds seven Tony nominations and five wins for Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and Blithe Spirit (for which she also won her first Olivier in 2015 for the West End production). Her most recent Broadway credit is 2012’s Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.
Lansbury is about to turn up in another family-friendly film: Mary Poppins Returns. “It's a tiny part I have to tell you,” she said. “I get to sing the song at the end and that's kind of fun.
“That's the thing that I got from my grandfather was his incredible vocal strength. I can talk til the cows come home, never lose my voice,” she laughed. “Sing all night, all day, nothing happens.”
When asked if there is anything she wants to do in her remaining years, she said, “Just keep my memory. We live on the memory of our lives. I just don't want ever to forget.”