October 16, 1925 – Actress and Disney Legend Angela Lansbury is Born
“Oddly enough, children recognize my voice. They’ll hear me and say, “Mom, that’s Mrs. Potts!” It’s the timbre of my voice that they pick up on.”
On October 16, 1925, Angela Brigid Lansbury was born in Regent’s Park, London, England to actress Moyna MacGill and politician Edgar Lansbury. Her talent manifested at the age of nine, when she took to playing characters as a way to cope with her father’s death of stomach cancer. She immersed herself in film, and in 1940, she began studying acting at the Webber Douglas School of Singing and Dramatic Art; her formal education was cut short by the Blitz, where she and her family immigrated to the United States, ending up in New York City. While there, Lansbury gained a scholarship to study at the Feagin School of Drama and Radio. In 1944, she got her big Hollywood break when she was cast as the maid in the film Gaslight, which not only scored her a contract with MGM, but an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The following year would see another Academy Award nomination for Lansbury after her work in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and a third nomination would occur in 1962 for her role in The Manchurian Candidate.
Lansbury is better known for her roles on the stage, beginning with her debut in 1957 in the short-lived Hotel Paradiso. Her first musical was Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ Anyone Can Whistle, which closed after 9 performances. This was followed with Mame in 1966, where she was cast as lead Mame Dennis. Lansbury not only gained near universal praise for her performance, but received her first of five Tony Awards for the role. She would then win Tony Awards for her roles in Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Blithe Spirit (2009). Despite this success, Lansbury is probably best known for her role as writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the long-running television series Murder, She Wrote. For her role, she was nominated for twelve Emmy awards.
Lansbury’s association with Disney began in 1971, when she was cast as the lead character Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe for this role. Her second main role with the studio came in the 1990s, where she voiced the role of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, and sang the title song, which would go on to win an Academy Award. In 2006, she would also be featured as a host in Fantasia 2000, introducing “The Firebird Suite.” Known as a Disney icon to children everywhere, she was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1995. Among her numerous other awards and honors, Lansbury was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.