Murder, she wrote.
Musicals, she played.
Magic, she created.
Angela Lansbury, a Londoner who became an icon of theater, TV and films, died in her sleep Oct. 11 in Los Angeles. She was 96; she would have turned 97 in five more days.
She was a global sensation, bringing dignity, charm, and radiance to any role she tackled. Her incredible career spanned eight decades and embraced television, movies, and the Broadway stage. Clearly, she was one of the rare ones, who kept reinventing herself in all phases of show biz.
Adults remember her for playing Jessica Fletcher, on CBS’ long-time crime caper, in which she was the irrepressible sleuth and busybody who always tried to solve a case before the usual investigators.
On stage, there was nothing she couldn’t portray. I first saw her in “Mame” on Broadway, in 1996, which earned her the first of five Tony Awards (six, counting a Lifetime Achievement Award), which proved she could sing and dance and act. But she also won hurrahs for “Gypsy,” which I saw in London, which added Rose in her repertoire. In perhaps her most challenging Broadway musical, Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” she was perfection as Nellie Lovett, the baker creating meat pies, in a stunning adult musical directed by Hal Prince and co-starring Len Cariou as the murderer. She brought her own version of Madame Armfeldt, in Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” which earned her a Tony nomination.
One of her last roles on Broadway was “Deuce,” in 2007, a drama by Terence McNally, which paired Lansbury with Marian Seldes in a not-so-popular vehicle that also starred an invisible but audible bouncing tennis ball, with both actresses conversing and looking left and right and left and right in a monotonous exercise in tedium. This was a rare Lansbury; she forgot her text and you could hear the prompter throwing out her lines. Ouch!
In films, she provided the voice of charm as Mrs. Potts, the teapot in Disney’s animated movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” singing the title tune that youngsters adopted. ‘Twas a tale as old as time, still resonating with nostalgia.
She was a character actress, too, in a slew of films, like “Gas Light,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” earning Oscar nominations. Her lone Academy Award was an honorary one, for her dramatic roles.
And one of her little known roles – she played the mother of the Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii” – gave her island ties and perhaps provoked a trivia question in her filmography.
Lansbury might have been the right actress at the right time, on the Great White Way. She was a Broadway musical headliner, in the wake of Ethel Merman, and logically the inspiration for the next and current-generation of Broadway divas like Bernadette Peters, Kelli O’Hara and Sutton Foster.
She was legendary in a craft requiring triple-threat skills and I’m blessed to have experienced her grace and magic in live in shows that are now classics in the Broadway library. May she be taking her bows in the great theater in the skies. …
I’ve been missing the chuckles, watching Frank DeLima do his multi-tutu-in-muumuu TV commercials for The Cab, so I asked him recently why the spot – which even used to be shown in movie theaters – was yanked.
“Because the cab business is down,” he said. During the pandemic, visitors to Hawaii were down, perhaps locals just stayed home, and it’s likely Lyft and Uber services were up due to their cheaper fares?
DeLima’s comedic presence made the commercial particularly effective, since his utterance of the cab company’s phone number, (808) 422-2222, helped make it a household number hard to forget. …
Shelton will exit ‘The Voice’
Blake Shelton will wind up his career as judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” exiting his turn-around chair in Season 23, which begins in January 2023.
Joining remaining coach Kelly Clarkson will be Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan, formerly of One Direction.
Shelton, a singer with roots in country music, has been the winningest coach on the talent competition over the past 12 years, with eight of his picks resulting as the last one standing.
His wife, Gwen Stefani, has been an intermittent judge; they married in 2021.
Show host Carson Daly also will continue.
With two shows a week, during a typical run of the competition, judging is a mammoth task.
The question, however, is the show has yet to have a bona fide breakout star. Like, can you name at least three “Voice” winners of the past? Didn’t think so. ..
And that’s Show Biz. …