Angela Lansbury Left Los Angeles To Save Her Children From Charles Manson's Influence

Cults are a difficult subject to broach, because there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Who is at the center of the cult? What type of people does this organization seek out? How is the cultural landscape at the time? It's questions like these that have oversimplified the case of Charles Manson and his followers for decades –- the hard truth is that there is no simple answer to explain how he was able to convince his followers to kill innocent people. It's a combination of class politics, racism, fandom, and perhaps several other factors that we may never know about.

So, how in the world does Angela Lansbury, who recently passed away at 96 years old, fit into this equation? How can someone so nice catch the ire of the infamous cult leader? Well, according to a 2014 interview with The Daily Mail, it was because her children, Anthony and Deidre, fell in with his group in the late 1960s.

"There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits," she recalled. It is likely that one of these factions was Spahn Ranch, which housed Manson and his followers in 1968 and 1969. According to her, Deidre was first introduced to Manson before Anthony joined the fray.

"[Deidre] was one of many youngsters who knew him," Lansbury recalled of the leader, "and they were fascinated. He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it."

Avoiding Helter Skelter

Needless to say, even before the Tate-LaBianca murders in the summer of 1969, Manson's cult was a dangerous group to be a part of. According to author Jeff Guinn in his book "Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson," intense and frequent drug use throughout the cult was common, with Manson encouraging his followers to take heavy doses of LSD.

Because of the dangers that the cult leader posed, Lansbury told her then-husband, Peter Shaw, that the family needed to move. She wanted their children, especially her daughter, as far away from Manson's influence as possible, as her drug addiction was getting worse under his influence. She decided on County Cork, Ireland, which she still visited up until her passing.

"I was drawn to Ireland because it was the birthplace of my mother and it was also somewhere my children wouldn't be exposed to any more bad influences," she explained. "So I refused all work for a year and simply kept house."

Thankfully, the drastic change in scenery worked. Lansbury recalled Anthony recovering fairly quickly, and although Deidre took a bit longer to heal from her addiction, she eventually fully recovered. While she was grateful, she couldn't help but fear what could have happened if they hadn't intervened.

"Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two if they hadn't been removed to a completely different milieu," Lansbury said. "We were so very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time."