Angela Lansbury died on October 11 at the age of 96. The actor was an icon of film, television and stage, with a career that spanned nine decades. She was nominated for several Oscars (including for her first film role in the 1944s gas light) and won several Tony Awards for her work on Broadway. But to many people, she was best known for her starring role as Jessica Fletcher in murder, she wrote.
TIED TOGETHER: Angela Lansbury dead; ‘Murder, She Wrote’ actor dies aged 96
murder, she wrote Premiered in 1984, starring Lansbury as best-selling crime writer/amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The show ran for 12 seasons on CBS and developed a strong following along the way. Fans tuned in weekly to see how Jessica would uncover the latest crime thriller she accidentally stumbled upon.
In an interview with Television Academy, Lansbury reflected on what made Jessica Fletcher such an attractive character.
“I want to be seen as an honorable person and I think Jessica Fletcher is an honorable woman. I think that’s one of the reasons people like her,” Lansbury said.
The actress felt that her character’s strong sense of justice was one reason she resonated with viewers.
“I’m very honest about what I do and I think she is too. She is an extremely straight forward, liberal person, fair, honest and just,” Lansbury said. “And that’s what I want to try to be. I can’t say I am all the time. But I definitely want to try to be.”
Lansbury, who was born in London in 1925, came to Hollywood with her family in the 1940s. Back then, television was still in its infancy, and Lansbury felt it was risky to pursue a career in the new medium.
“I never felt like television was a comedown. But I thought it was a dead end,” she admitted in her interview with the TV Academy. “I was always afraid that if you got on TV, audiences would become so familiar that they would get fed up with you no matter what you do… and that would be the end of your career. And I’ve always been concerned about the longevity of [my] career.”
Despite her misgivings, Lansbury made frequent television appearances in the 1950s. She took on roles in various anthology series such as e.g Lux Video Theater, Ford TV Theater, and fireplace theatre. Some of these were filmed live, and Lansbury compared the experience to working on stage.
“I did a lot of live television. It absolutely saved my bacon,” she said. Lansbury explained that she turned to television after resigning from her contract with MGM, where she was dissatisfied with the roles she was offered.
While Jessica Fletcher is Lansbury’s best-known television role, she has appeared in a number of shows, made-for-TV movies and mini-series over the course of her long career. they include Little Gloria… Happy at last (where she played real-life socialite Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney), the 1992 TV movie Mrs. ‘Arris goes to Paris, and a 2017 adaptation little woman, where she played the imposing Aunt March. Lansbury has also appeared in episodes of The Man from UNCLE Touched by an Angel, Magnum PI, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
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TIED TOGETHER: Angela Lansbury once called a proposed “Murder She Wrote” reboot “a terrible mistake”