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Angela Lansbury aka Jessica Fletcher: Here’s Everything You Didn’t Know About This Actress Who Looked Older Than Her Age

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Actress Angela Lansbury died yesterday at the age of 96 in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles. If there is one face that has marked several generations, it is that of this Anglo-American actress, who was, at one point, the richest woman in the history of television thanks to her role as amateur detective Jessica Fletcher embodied in 264 episodes of the “Arabesque” series (either in the original version “Murder, She Wrote”).

Days exceeding 14 hours of work

Jessica Fletcher was the epitome of America’s Miss Marple, a sparkling-eyed middle-aged lady living alone in Cabot Cove. As Angela said, the “Murder, She Wrote” series conveyed “American values ​​from the heart”, and audiences loved it. From 1984 to 1996, 28 million spectators watched it every week in the United States.

But success did not fall from the sky. It was hard for the courageous actress who sometimes accumulated long days exceeding 14 hours of filming for 12 full years. But every effort has a price… Angela’s compensation went from $40,000 per episode to $200,000, by which time she became the executive producer and negotiated all sorts of lucrative concessions with her employers who were Universal and CBS .

“Murder, She Wrote” was very popular with advertisers, which made her very popular with television networks. Yet despite her success, Angela, who has been nominated for 18 Emmys, has never brought a single one home, the Daily Mail reminds us.


She refuses a mythical role to remain “sympathetic” in the eyes of Americans

One day, during an interview, a reporter asked her why she kept working long after other actors might have retired. “I was never particularly aware of my age,” she said. “It’s like being on a bicycle: I just put my foot down and keep going.”

Jessica Fletcher was the first role played by Angela that made her a public figure, recognized on the streets. Born in Great Britain, she was honored by the Queen of England a few years ago. She officially became Dame Angela in 2014.

Angela was not always seen as a friendly old lady. Milos Forman absolutely wanted her to play the role of the nurse in his film “Flight over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. While her husband, Peter Shaw, was strongly in favor, Angela reversed her decision after studying the script: “It’s a wonderful role, but I just can’t play it. She’s so horrible, so evil.”

I’ve never been particularly aware of my age

She didn’t want to detract from her warm appeal: she just wanted the audience to like her. Thus she embodied Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit in the West End with Rupert Everett, in 2014, or Driving Miss Daisy with James Earl Jones. Angela was also Mrs. Santa Claus, Aunt March in the film Little Women and Aunt Adelaide in Nanny McPhee.


Angela has often played characters much older than she really was. In Blue Hawaii, she was Elvis’ mother. Elvis was 29 and she was 36 (!). In The Manchurian Candidate – which earned her an Oscar nomination – Laurence Harvey, who played her son, was actually only three years younger than her…