Perhaps best known for her work as TV sleuth Jessica Fletcher on the long-running Murder, She Wrote, Broadway fans will always think of the beloved Angela Lansbury as the woman who sensationally created the roles of Mame and Mrs. Lovett in two classic, hit musicals. In fact, she received Tony Awards for her performances in both Mame and Sweeney Todd as well as for her work in Gypsy, Dear World, and Blithe Spirit. Lansbury also appeared on The Great White Way in Gore Vidal's The Best Man, A Little Night Music, Deuce, Hotel Paradiso, A Taste of Honey, Anyone Can Whistle, The King and I, and A Little Family Business, and her numerous film credits include Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Manchurian Candidate, all of which brought the Kennedy Center Honoree Academy Award nominations.
As Broadway remains temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed like a great time to look back at the career of this stellar artist. Enjoy these show-stopping performances while much of the country is asked to #StayatHome.
"Little Yellow Bird" from The Picture of Dorian Gray
The first time American audiences had the chance to hear Lansbury sing (in a voice much different from her later Broadway outings) was in the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray, which earned the stage and screen star her second Oscar nomination.
"I Don't Want to Know" from Dear World
Although the Jerry Herman musical Dear World played only 132 performances, Lansbury's performance as Countess Aurelia brought her a second Tony Award in 1969. On The Julie Andrews Hour, Lansbury performed the musical's best-known song, "I Don't Want to Know." (Performance begins at the 3:02 mark.)
"Open a New Window" from Mame
At the 1971 Tony Awards, Lansbury got the chance to re-create one of the Jerry Herman classics from her Tony-winning performance in the 1966 musical.
"Substitutionary Locomotion" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Long before she sang a tale as old as time, Lansbury starred in another Disney musical, the 1971 hit Bedknobs and Broomsticks, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Here, she joins the cast in the Sherman Brothers song "Substitutionary Locomotion."
"Some People," "Together Wherever We Go," and "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy
After taking London by storm, Lansbury returned to Broadway in 1974 in the first revival of the classic Broadway musical Gypsy, subsequently earning her third Tony for her performance as Rose. This archival press footage is somewhat grainy, but the performance is tremendous.
"The Worst Pies in London" from Sweeney Todd
Lansbury won four of her five Tony Awards for performances in musicals, but the only musical performance preserved on film is her spectacularly original work as Mrs. Lovett in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. Here, she performs Lovett's first solo in the 1980 national tour of the Tony-winning musical, which co-starred George Hearn.
"Bosom Buddies" from Mame
At the 1998 Tony Awards, longtime friends and original Mame co-stars Lansbury and Bea Arthur re-created their duet from the Tony-winning Jerry Herman musical, which brought both their first Tony Awards.
"Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy
In the late '80s, Lansbury hosted the Tony Awards for three consecutive years beginning in 1987. In 1989 she opened the awards show with the first act finale from Gypsy.
"Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music
Lansbury played Mme. Armfeldt in the 2009 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music, but at the 1993 Kennedy Center Honors she had the chance to perform Desiree's solo to honor Stephen Sondheim.
"Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast
Lansbury joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2001 to re-create her performance as Mrs. Potts, singing the title song from the 1991 blockbuster Disney film.
"Liaisons" from A Little Night Music
At the 2011 Olivier Awards, Lansbury performed Mme. Armfeldt's solo to celebrate Stephen Sondheim's Special Olivier Award.