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Angela Lansbury Young: 10 Rare Photos of the Beloved Star Before ‘Murder She Wrote’

Travel back to the '40s with the elegant Dame of stage and screen

With a legendary career that spanned nearly 80 years, the British actress Angela Lansbury was long known as a true class act. The star, who was made a Dame in 2014 for her status as icon of the stage and screen, sadly passed away in 2022 at age 96. Perhaps best-known for her role as Jessica Fletcher in the whodunit series Murder She Wrote, which ran from 1984 to 1996, Lansbury was 58 when she took on the lead role, which broke down barriers for women over the age of 50 in TV shows and movies. And over the course of more than 200 episodes she won countless fans of all ages.

The longevity of Lansbury’s career was truly sensational. She started out as a stage actress in the 1940s, and had her first film role at just 17, playing a maid in the classic 1944 psychological thriller Gaslight (which actually coined the psychological term “gaslighting“). She was nominated for an Academy Award for the part — quite an achievement given that it was her big screen debut!

Related: Rita Moreno: 10 Rare Photos of the Trailblazing Star’s Life and 70-year Career

Angela Lansbury would go on to act in everything from musicals like Mame to acclaimed political dramas like The Manchurian Candidate to Disney movies (who could forget her as the voice of Mrs. Potts, the talking, singing teapot in Beauty and the Beast?). She even played Elvis’ mom in Blue Hawaii!

In 2013, Lansbury was given a well-deserved Honorary Academy Award. In a 1998 interview, she said “I’d like to be remembered as somebody who entertained — who took one out of oneself, for a few minutes, a few hours transported you into a different venue, gave you relief, gave you entertainment and gave you joy and laughter and tears.” Lansbury certainly succeeded in this, and we’re unlikely to see another entertainer of her caliber any time soon.

Related: Judi Dench Young: Incredible Photos of the Dame’s Early Years as an Actress

Here’s a look back at Angela Lansbury’s early days as an actress. Many decades before she began solving TV mysteries, she was a lovely young up-and-comer. You can definitely see her star power in these 10 throwback photos!

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