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RIP Dame Angela Lansbury

To millions across the globe, she will be remembered as Jessica Fletcher, the amateur sleuth from the hit US TV series Murder, She Wrote. But to Sondheim fans, she will likely be best remembered as the definitive Mrs Lovett - a role enjoyed by countless newcomers to Sweeney Todd thanks to the original Broadway cast recording with Len Cariou as Todd.

Dame Angela died peacefully at her sleep, just five days before her 97th birthday.

Her career spanned eight decades and won her ciritical and popular acclaim, as well as an Honorary Academy Award, three Academy nominations (The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and Gaslight (1944), 18 Emmy nominations, six Golden Globes, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from BAFTA, the Screen Actors Guild and the Television Critics Association Awards.

For her stage roles, Lansbury - who was born in Poplar in East London - won five of her seven Tony nominations, taking home trophies for Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Blythe Spirit, plus the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. She also won an Olivier for her wonderfully batty portrayal of Madame Arcati in Blythe Sprit in London in 2015.

A firm favourite of Sondheim's, Lansbury made her musical theatre debut in the disastrous Anyone Can Whistle, but didn't let the show's early demise put her off returning to create the role of Mrs Nellie Lovett in Sweeney Todd. In between, she gave a Tony-winning peformance as Mama Rose in the first Broadway revivial, in 1974, of Gypsy. And she would go on to feature as Madame Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn's Broadway revival (the first ever) of A Little Night Music in 2009.

Tributes have poured in, with Twitter awash with fond memories of the hard-working actress:

Jason Alexander (@IJasonAlexander)

The great Angela Lansbury - one of the most versatile, talented, graceful, kind, witty, wise, classy ladies I’ve ever met has left us. Her huge contribution to the arts and the world remains always. #ripAngelaLansbury

Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth)

Nobody did Mame quite like her. Rest in peace, Angela Lansbury. Thank you for your art & wisdom 💔

Matthew Bourne (@SirMattBourne)

One of the greatest, most beloved and admired performers of all time. She conquered every medium effortlessly. Heartbroken tonight but so grateful to have met her on several occasions and will miss her dearly. She is what the word “Legend” was invented for

Michael Cerveris (@cerveris)

Mrs Lansbury

You’re a bloody wonder

Eminently practical and yet

Appropriate as always.

As you’ve said repeatedly there’s little point in dwelling on the past.

How we’ll live without you all these years we’ll never know


Playbill paid credit to Lansbury's work ethic, quoting the actress on how she wanted to be remembered:

Angela Lansbury (16 October 1925--11 October 2022)


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