Angela Lansbury has died at the age of 96, her family has announced.
The Irish-British and American actress was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in American drama series “Murder, She Wrote”.
According to a family statement, Lansbury died in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.
The statement said: “The children of Dame Angela Lansbury are sad to announce that their mother died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1.30am today, Tuesday October 11 2022, just five days shy of her 97th birthday.
“In addition to her three children, Anthony, Deirdre and David, she is survived by three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine and Ian, plus five great grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury.
“She was proceeded (sic) in death by her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw. A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined.”
With a career spanning more than eight decades, Lansbury was a three-time Oscar nominee and five-time Tony Award winner.
She was born in London in 1925 and later moved to the US during the Second World War where she studied at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York.
Lansbury’s first film role was in George Cukor’s “Gaslight” as a young maid named Nancy Oliver who worked in the home of the film’s protagonist Paula Alquist, played by Ingrid Bergman.
The then-19-year-old Lansbury received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her role in the 1944 film.
Lansbury garnered a great deal of recognition and is perhaps best known for her portrayal of “Murder, She Wrote” novelist and sleuth Jessica Fletcher.
She played the character in the crime drama TV series for a total of 12 years and nine seasons, after first starring in the role in 1984.
In 2013, Lansbury was given an honorary Academy Award for her lifetime achievements in the film industry.
Lansbury was married twice, first to American actor Richard Cromwell in 1945 when she was 19 and he was 35. The couple divorced in 1946, but remained friends until Cromwell’s death in 1960.
She married her second husband, actor and producer Peter Shaw, in 1949 and they remained together until Shaw’s death in 2003. The couple had two children of their own, Anthony and Deirdre, and Lansbury also became a step-mother to David, Shaw’s son from a previous relationship.
Anthony went on to become a television director and directed 68 episodes of “Murder, She Wrote”.
Lansbury was made a CBE in the Queen’s 1994 birthday honours and was made a DBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to drama, charitable work and philanthropy.
Of the damehood she said: “It is a very proud day for me to be recognised by the country of my birth, and to meet the Queen under these circumstances is a rare and lovely occasion.”
In 2002, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by Bafta and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
More recently Lansbury starred in the 2017 BBC adaptation of “Little Women”, playing Aunt March in the three-part-series based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.
She also had a cameo part in the 2018 Mary Poppins sequel “Mary Poppins Returns”, in which she featured as an elderly colourfully-dressed balloon seller.
In addition to her success on screen, Lansbury became a star on Broadway after her performance as the titular character in “Mame”.
Lansbury was criticised for comments she made about women taking the blame for sexual harassment in the wake of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein and others in Hollywood.
In response to the 2017 criticism she said: “There is no excuse whatsoever for men to harass women in an abusive sexual manner.
“And I am devastated that anyone should deem me capable of thinking otherwise.” (PA Media/dpa/NAN)