In 1987, at 60, Angela Lansbury already had a legacy that would last for generations. In her 40 years in the business (at that time), the versatile actress starred in 50 motion pictures and 15 Broadway plays. However, she found her biggest audience on television as she portrayed Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote.
Lansbury developed a leading lady whose age and appearance were never the topics of discussion in the series, because her wit and ability to connect missing pieces solved murders better than anyone on television.
"Truthfully, I'm surprised at the staying power of the series," the actress told the Press of Atlantic City in 1987. "It's revolting sometimes...but wonderful. I've worked much harder in the theater than I do playing Jessica. But I can relate to her. Jessica is a healthy, energetic woman of 60, as am I, but with a life—including a romantic life—which is in no way curtailed by her age."
Many critics and so-called experts didn't believe a show like Murder, She Wrote would be a hit among television viewers. It wasn't because of the show's genre or scripts. They thought having an older woman as the sole star wasn't enough to grab audiences' attention—but boy, were they completely wrong!
Lansbury defied all odds—becoming "TV's hottest star." Press of Atlantic City used "hottest" to describe the actor, and Murder, She Wrote's success because the industry steered away from viewing Lansbury as such.
Throughout her career, the actress portrayed women characters 10-20 years her senior who "never got the man." MGM, the studio she was signed to, claimed Lansbury was "washed up" before releasing her in 1951.
Angela always stood with her head held high, having an established career that lasted longer than many of her peers whose beauty was their main attraction. "Of course, I wanted to get the man, and I envied the pretty girls who did. I was never the sex symbol or the glamour queen. Now I'm glad. I might have been one of those actresses whose careers came and went so fast, poor dears," she added.
Women worldwide can learn a thing or two from Lansbury. When you have a gift, nothing or anyone can stop you from sharing that gift with the world—no matter what critics say!
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