At 90, Angela Lansbury was born about 30 years after Scott Fizgerald. (See yesterday’s posting titled “Boats Against the Current, Borne Back Ceaselessly into the Past”.) Her brilliant career, which began in the 1940s, included stardom on stage, screen, and television.
I’ve always thought she was best at playing dark roles: She’s unforgettable as the lethal Mrs Lovett In Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. As Eleanor Iselin, Raymond Shaw’s mother in The Manchurian Candidate, she was one of the all-time greatest movie monsters. And, in perhaps her most subtle performance, she played Jessica Fletcher, the most successful mass murderer in American history, managing to escape the attentions of the FBI and any number of local police forces, despite being on the scene at more than 847 homicides, and living in Cabot Cove, Maine, at a time when its homicide rate was higher than that of Medellín, Colombia during the Pablo Escobar years.
According to legend, she recorded the title song for the movie Beauty and the Beast in a single take.
Last week, as part of a 25th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of that film, she sang the song again, on stage at Lincoln Center in New York, accompanied by Alan Menken, who wrote the score.