On a chilly mid-November night in New York City, Oscar- and Tony-winning actress Angela Lansbury happily rehearsed for her return to the stage in a one-night-only benefit reading of The Importance of Being Earnest at Lincoln Center. “I simply love the feeling that you and the audience are together in it,” she tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now, about being onstage. “It’s something that absolutely propels me forward to go out there and give my absolute best every time.”
Angela turned 94 in October, but “I don’t feel anything like that,” she says. “You are what you eat, that’s what I tell myself!” The London-born actress jokes that “strong tea” keeps her spry.
Needless to say, retirement is not part of her vocabulary. In addition to Angela’s periodic work on the stage, she has found another career path doing voice work, such as the role of Mrs. Potts in the 1991 animated feature Beauty and the Beast. “You have to keep going, otherwise you won’t learn how to do other things,” explains the star. “And yes, I still sing! I never lost my voice, but if you don’t use it, you will lose it.”
Widowed since the passing of her husband of 54 years, producer Peter Shaw, in 2003, Angela splits her time between New York, where her son, Anthony, and his family live, and a home in Los Angeles just a few blocks from her daughter, Deidre. “Angela’s back and forth all the time,” confides her stepson David to Closer. “She also has a farm in Ireland where she spends about six weeks every year.”
No matter where she is in the world, Angela is still most often recognized as Murder, She Wrote’s Jessica Fletcher, which makes her proud. “I wanted to play a character that could endear herself to the public,” Angela — who never won an Emmy for the role despite being nominated all 12 seasons — admits. “People do remember, and I’m delighted that they do.”
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