The Legendary Angela Lansbury

Episodes

First
Broadcast
Comments
20160830

In a heartfelt & revealing conversation between two well-known British actresses (and firm friends) Emma Thompson meets one of Hollywood and Broadway's most legendary figures, Dame Angela Lansbury to discuss her seventy years and counting in Show Business.

According to the Theatre critic John Lahr, Angela Lansbury has had one of the most enduring and successful acting careers there has ever been. He offers a personal insight within the programme and describes how his father, Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz) starred alongside Angela in her Broadway debut Hotel Paradiso in 1957.

Despite being mostly recognised internationally as the character of Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote, Angela's career was launched at the age of 17 alongside Hollywood film star Ingrid Bergman in the film Gaslight when she landed a contract with MGM for the next fifteen years or so. Among the many anecdotes that Angela shares from her Hollywood days we hear how she and Ingrid towered over fellow actor Charles Boyer in the making of the movie and how on screen this was resolved - to great comic effect!

She went on to act alongside some of the biggest names in the business including Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls, Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet, Elvis in Blue Hawaii and Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate. But Angela didn't offer the sex appeal that was required like many of the Hollywood sirens at the time such as Ava Gardner. By MGM giving her restrictive roles pushed Angela towards Broadway where she felt she could become a real actress.

With a string of Tony awards to follow, Angela was taking Broadway by storm starring in hit musicals written by Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman including Mame, Gypsy and Sweeney Todd. It wasn't easy to make a name for herself since the producers were drawn to the likes of Judy Garland and Lucille Ball and she had to fight to win the title role of Mame in 1966. She describes the opening night as one of the most exciting experiences of her life.

Despite it being a golden era for Angela, Emma asks what it was really like behind the scenes juggling a flourishing career at the detriment of her family. And how musical theatre challenged being a film star. We also hear how, nearing the end of his life, Frank Sinatra stunned Angela in conversation when they went out for dinner together.

Now in her 90th year, and having recently completed an American tour (and London run after 40 years) in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit as the eccentric Madame Arcati, Angela has no plans to retire. She says "I still have the freshness of excitement about it all today as I did playing Nancy in Gaslight 72 years ago."

Emma Thompson says, "having been brought up in the theatre myself she's always been a part of my childhood, my youth and a star in my own firmament. And it's really my great pleasure to share this personal discussion about her life and her extraordinary, unique career".

20160830

In a heartfelt and revealing conversation between two well-known British actresses (and firm friends) Emma Thompson meets one of Hollywood and Broadway's most legendary figures, Dame Angela Lansbury to discuss her seventy years and counting in Show Business.

According to the Theatre critic John Lahr, Angela Lansbury has had one of the most enduring and successful acting careers there has ever been. He offers a personal insight within the programme and describes how his father, Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz) starred alongside Angela in her Broadway debut Hotel Paradiso in 1957.

Despite being mostly recognised internationally as the character of Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote, Angela's career was launched at the age of 17 alongside Hollywood film star Ingrid Bergman in the film Gaslight when she landed a contract with MGM for the next fifteen years or so. Among the many anecdotes that Angela shares from her Hollywood days we hear how she and Ingrid towered over fellow actor Charles Boyer in the making of the movie and how on screen this was resolved - to great comic effect!

She went on to act alongside some of the biggest names in the business including Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls, Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet, Elvis in Blue Hawaii and Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate. But Angela didn't offer the sex appeal that was required like many of the Hollywood sirens at the time such as Ava Gardner. By MGM giving her restrictive roles pushed Angela towards Broadway where she felt she could become a real actress.

With a string of Tony awards to follow, Angela was taking Broadway by storm starring in hit musicals written by Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman including Mame, Gypsy and Sweeney Todd. It wasn't easy to make a name for herself since the producers were drawn to the likes of Judy Garland and Lucille Ball and she had to fight to win the title role of Mame in 1966. She describes the opening night as one of the most exciting experiences of her life.

Despite it being a golden era for Angela, Emma asks what it was really like behind the scenes juggling a flourishing career at the detriment of her family. And how musical theatre challenged being a film star. We also hear how, nearing the end of his life, Frank Sinatra stunned Angela in conversation when they went out for dinner together.

Now in her 90th year, and having recently completed an American tour (and London run after 40 years) in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit as the eccentric Madame Arcati, Angela has no plans to retire. She says "I still have the freshness of excitement about it all today as I did playing Nancy in Gaslight 72 years ago."

Emma Thompson says, "having been brought up in the theatre myself she's always been a part of my childhood, my youth and a star in my own firmament. And it's really my great pleasure to share this personal discussion about her life and her extraordinary, unique career".