Angela Lansbury 1925 - 2022
Angela Brigid Lansbury DBE 16 Oct 1925-2022
Angela Lansbury was the daughter of Edgar Lansbury, a timber merchant making veneers for ocean liners, and his second wife Moyna Macgill, an Irish actress. They were living at 5 Regent’s Park Terrace (on Oval road at the bottom of Gloucester Crescent) when she was born, although they featured in the 1925 electoral register at Saw Mills, Poplar, because that is where Edgar, a member of English Communist party, worked and where he had been Mayor of Poplar .
Both Angela’s parents had been married before, Edgar to Minnie, a teacher and a suffragette who worked tirelessly alongside him, particularly for the rights of widows and orphans of WW1 soldiers; after her untimely death in 1922, he had married Moyna, who had been married to writer Reginald Denham in 1919, and divorced in 1924, and already had a daughter, Isolde, who later married the actor and playwright Peter Ustinov.
Angela’s grandfather, George Lansbury (1859 – 1940) was a socialist who, as MP for the borough of Poplar, devoted a large part of his life to the improvement of both living standards & working conditions for his constituents. George was a steadfast supporter of women’s rights, campaigning for their rights to vote and became a close associate of Emmeline Pankhurst herself. He is perhaps most well-known for his role in the 1921 ‘Rates Rebellion’, which saw mass protests against rates of taxation in poorer districts being set at levels equivalent to the most affluent in London. The Poplar District Board of Works, built on the site of the chapel and almshouses of the East India Company was home to the Poplar Borough Council until 1938 and is now the Lansbury Hotel.
Career in America
By 1925, the Lansburys were living at 64B Hamilton Terrace – and employed 2 scullery maids and a parlour maid. In 1930, Moyna had twin boys and the family moved to Mill Hill. Edgar died in 1934 and Moyna became engaged to a Scottish colonel, Leekie Forbes and moved to Hampstead, where Angela went to South Hampstead School and became movie mad. When the bombing started to become heavy in 1940 Moyna took Angela and 10 year old twins, Edgar and Bruce, to Quebec on the Canadian Pacific liner Duchess of Atholl , leaving Liverpool on 25 August. On the voyage, Moyna acted as the escort for 60 evacuee children. The Lansburys soon crossed the border to USA where Moyna sought work in New York and later in Hollywood, where Angela gradually became involved in an acting career, beginning in films and embracing theatre and television. Angela married Richard Cromwell, in 1945, but the marriage only lasted a year and, in 1949, she married Peter Pullen Shaw at St Columba’s in Pont Street, Chelsea. The marriage lasted until his death in 2003. Her career lasted her whole life, including the famous series Murder She Wrote, and she won many awards which culminated in the award of a Damehood in 2014.