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By and On Angela

Angela Lansbury:
A Biography

By Margaret W. Bonanno

Angela Lansbury... alias Auntie Mame, Mama Rose, Mrs. Lovett, Jessica Fletcher... At sixteen she made her singing debut in a Montreal nightspot. Before she was twenty she had costarred with Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders and had been nominated for two Academy Awards for Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

But for the next twenty years, first as a contract player with MGM, later on her own, she slogged through dozens of "featured" roles, playing, in her own words, "bitches on wheels and people's mothers". It was a combination of both that won her a third Oscar nomination for her chilling performance in The Manchurian Candidate.

Not content to be just a movie actress, Angela set her sights on Broadway. From the slapstick farce of Hotel Paradiso in which she costarred with Bert Lahr, to the grim realism of A Taste of Honey, to the whimsy of Stephen Sondheim's ill-fated Anyone Can Whistle, she began to make a name for herself. It wasn't until she played Mame that Angela finally came into her own. At the age of forty-one she became an "overnight success", after a quarter century of trying.

There would be another medium to conquer, television, which would in time bring her the star vehicle, "Murder, She Wrote", a consistent top ten in the Nielsen ratings.

Despite her phenomenal success, she also faced tragedy. Both of her children almost destroyed themselves with drugs, but Angela helped them rehabilitate before going back to work.

Margaret Wander Bonanno's indepth biography tells the entire story of a wonderful woman and talented performer.


MARGARET WANDER BONANNO is the author of two novels, A Certain Slant of Light (Seaview, 1979) and Ember Days (Seaview, 1980) and is at work on the third. She lives in Staten Island, New York.


Angela Lansbury: A Biography
Published by St. Martin's Press.


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