It’s difficult to think of anyone who has had a more glittering career than Angela Lansbury: Oscar nominations for her initial two roles–the first when she was 17 years old–and a third for her brilliant performance in The Manchurian Candidate as Eleanor Iselin, Raymond Shaw’s mother and one of the all-time great movie monsters.
Then came Broadway, and the five Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Gypsy, Mame, Sweeney Todd, etc.)
And after that, once again discrediting Scott Fitzgerald’s comment about there being no second acts in American lives, there was TV, Murder She Wrote, and 18 Emmy nominations. (But, amazingly, no wins!)
In the picture above, which I’m sure was totally spontaneous and not at all staged for the camera, Lansbury takes a break from her role as Princess Gwendolyn in Danny Kaye’s The Court Jester—“The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!”—to munch an anachronistic hamburger. Her lunch companion was Basil Rathbone. It was 60 years ago. The term “babelicious” had not yet been coined in that primitive time. It should have been.
Last night, a revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit opened in Los Angeles, starring the now 89-year-old Angela Lansbury as “Madame Arcati.” The play moves to San Francisco in January, Toronto in February, and Washington in March. In DC, it will play at the National Theatre, where Lansbury made her first pre-Broadway stage debut, a couple of years after that picture was taken.
I’m getting my ticket today.