Today (October 16) marks Dame Angela Lansbury‘s 90th birthday. If you’re like us here at Anglophenia, you may have grown up with the British actress, watching her solve mysteries in the beloved Murder, She Wrote or delightfully singing as she made meat pies in the TV movie Sweeney Todd in the 1980s. Possibly your love goes even further back with films like 1962’s thriller The Manchurian Candidate. If the earlier roles are before your time, then you’ll definitely know her from voicing Mrs. Potts in 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. In her 90 years, Lansbury has touched multiple generations.
Let’s celebrate this dame on her birthday with 10 roles available online:
1. Murder, She Wrote
The female-driven whodunit popped up on TV in 1984, with one of Lansbury’s most memorable roles as mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher. These were the days prior to DVRs, so it was an event worth looking forward to all week. Lucky for us, we can catch up with the amateur detective online, and tag along with her as she solves crimes.
Eighteen-year-old Lansbury makes her film debut in this 1944 film, starring opposite Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten. Bergman portrays a young newlywed living in London with her husband (Boyer). Strange things start to happen, and Bergman’s character starts to lose it. Lansbury takes on the role of a maid in the house, who doesn’t help the situation. Cotten enters the mix as an inspector from Scotland Yard.
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde‘s horror story was adapted into this 1945 film, starring Hurd Hatfield in the title role. Gray is a young man living the life in 19th century England. He’s not too keen on aging and figures out a way to stop the process. But, of course, there’s a catch. Lansbury takes on the role of a lounge singer, whom Gray falls for at first sight.
4. If Winter Comes
A.S.M. Hutchinson‘s novel If Winter Comes was adapted into film in 1947. The story is based in England in 1939. Lansbury portrays an unhappily married woman whose husband (Walter Pidgeon) has doubts about their union. He’s still hooked on his first love Nona, portrayed by Deborah Kerr.
5. The Court Jester
Lansbury takes on the role of medieval Princess Gwendolyn in this 1955 musical comedy. Gwendolyn pines for love and falls for a carnival performer in disguise as a court jester, portrayed by Danny Kaye. He’s been put under a spell, which makes him the gallant man she’s been waiting for. Of course, her father, the king (Cecil Parker), wants her to marry to make an allegiance.
6. A Lawless Street
Also in 1955, Lansbury starred in the American western A Lawless Street as Tally Dickinson. She’s reunited with her former beau, Marshal Calem Ware (Randolph Scott). The Marshal has his hands full working in a town with no laws, but he makes time for Dickinson.
7. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Lansbury took on the role of Miss Price in Disney’s 1971 live-action film, with some bits and bobs animated. She’s put in charge of three children who have been evacuated from war-torn London during WWII. The children can’t quite put their finger on it, but there’s something about Mrs. Price. She definitely has a secret, which proves to involve magic and flying. If this sounds a little like Mary Poppins, you’re not completely off because the film incorporates some of the characters seen in the 1964 film.
8. The Mirror Crack’d
This 1980 Agatha Christie film stars Lansbury as Miss Jane Marple. A big-time Hollywood production comes to Marple’s English village. A local resident is murdered, but it’s believed a famous actress was the aim. Miss Marple is confined to her home due to an injury and aids her law enforcement nephew in solving the case. The film is topped up with British and Hollywood stars like Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin, Tony Curtis and Pierce Brosnan.
9. Nanny McPhee
Emma Thompson stars as a magical nanny who gets nicer looking the more the children behave in the 2005 fantasy film. Most fairy tales come with a wicked family member, and, in this case, Lansbury plays the wicked auntie. Colin Firth takes on the role of Mr. Brown, a widowed father to seven children (hence the need for some help).
10. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Popper, not Poppins. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that straight, Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is a typical man living in NYC in this 2011 family film. He’s divorced, he works a lot, and is desperate to please his children. He definitely wins some “Best Dad” points when his son and daughter discover he’s been gifted penguins. The exotic animals are a handful, but they come in handy when he tries to woo the owner of Tavern on the Green (Lansbury) as part of a sales pitch.
Thank you for all of your hard work, Dame Angela Lansbury!Read More