Angela Lansbury, Star Of Murder, She Wrote And Beauty And The Beast, Dies At 96

Dame Angela Lansbury, star of stage and screens both big and small, has died at the age of 96. According to a statement released by her family, Lansbury passed away peacefully just five days short of her 97th birthday. The performer was known for something different by each generation, as she was a near-constant presence on Broadway, was practically omnipresent our TVs as crime writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher on "Murder, She Wrote," and starred in a number of films that range from the darkly dramatic to beloved family favorites. 

Lansbury could truly do it all. She was funny, charismatic, capable of carrying a dramatic scene with gravitas, and my god, could she sing! Lansbury has five Tony awards for her performances on stage, perhaps most famously for playing the people-cooking pie maker Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in 1979. That performance was a far cry from her other most famous role, as the voice of the sweet, matronly Mrs. Potts the teapot in Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast." Whether she was playing murderers or musical mothers, Lansbury had a special spark. 

A lifetime of incredible performances

Regardless of whether or not you'd ever watched "Murder, She Wrote," it was popular enough in the 1980s and has maintained an impressive status in reruns that almost everyone has at least heard of it. "Murder, She Wrote" was just one small part of Lansbury's towering career, but it was definitely one of the most charming. After all, how could you hate a small town mystery writer who solves crimes? That's adorable. 

Lansbury first made a name for herself in the movies playing a supporting role opposite Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 psychological thriller "Gaslight," and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. It would not be her last nomination, however, as she was also nominated for her work in 1945's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and her performance in "The Manchurian Candidate" in 1962. She would go on to star in several Disney films, including the delightfully zany "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and the animated classic "Beauty and the Beast," for which she sang the beautiful and haunting theme song. 

On stage, her five Tony awards make Lansbury the second most awarded performer in history, behind only Audra McDonald, who has six. Her most recent win was in 2009 for her role in "Blithe Spirit." 

Lansbury was a celebrated star of stage and screen, thrilling us, singing us to sleep, and sharing a part of her sparkle for decades. She will be deeply missed.