Angela Lansbury Almost Lost Both of Her Kids

Angela Lansbury’s children: Deidre Angela Shaw and Anthony Pullen Shaw, could maintain their private lives. But being children of a famous person took its toll, and they faced struggles, including association with Charles Manson. 

Anthony and Deidre grew up in Malibu and got heavily involved with drugs in their early teens. The English actor’s daughter was hanging out with the crowd led by Charles Manson. Angela revealed to the Daily Mail:

“It started with cannabis but moved on to heroin. There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits. It pains me to say it, but, at one stage, Deidre was in with a crowd led by Charles Manson.”

In an attempt to help her children, Angela moved to County Cork in Ireland and didn’t work while Anthony and Deidre were recovering. That was in the 1960s, and the “Murder, She Wrote” star said that there weren’t many options available to help addicted teens at the time. 

Moving to her mother’s homeland was the best decision for the family. Angela explained that she and her husband had no idea what had been going on, let alone how to handle the situation:

“Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two if they hadn’t been removed to a completely different milieu, the simplicity of life in Ireland.”

Angela and her husband, the Agent, and Manager Peter Shaw found a doctor who prescribed methadone to her children — a heroin substitute to help with the withdrawal symptoms. 

Both Anthony and Deidre eventually pulled out of their bad habits and created new ones. The actress’ son followed his parents’ footsteps and pursued a career as an actor and director in the entertainment industry. 

He is most known for his roles in “A Bridge Too Far” (1977), “James Bond 007: The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), and “North Sea Hijack” (1980). Anthony worked alongside his mother in “Murder, She Wrote,” where he directed 68 episodes. 

He married in 1980 and had three children with his wife, Lee Speer Webster: Peter John Shaw, Katherine Beeson Shaw, and Ian Lansbury Shaw. Deidre wed the Italian Chef Enzo Battarra and moved to LA. They opened the restaurant Enzo and Angela but closed down in 2019.


George Lansbury, Angela’s grandfather, was a well-known figure in the 1930s and a leader of the Labor Party in England. In her own words, George was the man who “tried to stop World War II.” 

George wasn’t her only family member involved with politics and activism. Her father’s mum, Bessie, was a Suffragette while her father Edgar Lansbury was a noted Communist politician — he was a mayor in Poplar, East London. Edgar passed away when Angela was nine-years-old. 

Despite her family’s attempt and effort to stop the war, the Lansburys had to leave England in 1940. They escaped London the day Liverpool was bombed. In 2017, the Hollywood legend revealed that she and her family didn’t understand how important that journey was. 

They escaped in a ship called the Duchess of Atholl. Shortly after taking Angela and her family safely to the US, the ship was sunk by a German U-boat in the South Atlantic and killed four staff members.

After escaping the war, Angela and her mother were happy to begin a brand new life in the United States. She said it was great to be greeted by the American people with such incredible warmth and friendliness.

At 19, her first marriage was with a fellow actor, 15 years her senior. In a 2017 interview with the Radio Times, Angela admitted she was searching for a father figure:

“I understand younger women marrying older men. It’s a father — she didn’t have the father, and now she’s looking for it.” 

But the marriage wouldn’t last as the British actor solved that her husband was gay. Seven months later, their relationship fell apart, as the first partner “couldn’t fulfill his function” as a straight husband.

Angela revealed she never knew why Richard Cromwell wanted to marry her, but her theory is that he fell in love with her character Sybil in “The Picture Of Dorian Gray.” She was devastated when he left, but the two remained friends until he passed away in 1960. 

The “Nanny McPhee” costar remarried in 1949 to Agent and Manager Peter Shaw. The couple stayed together for 53 years until Peter passed away from heart failure. After his death, the actress entered a period of depression.

She eventually got better and partially credited her recovery to Emma Thompson, who provided her the role of the evil Aunt Adelaide in “Nanny McPhee.”

The silver screen actor’s career took off in 1944 when she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was nominated the following year and won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Sibyl Vane. 

The 1960s was a prominent decade for her career. The English actress landed supporting roles which brought her another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the film “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Other appearances in the same decade include “Blue Hawaii” (1961), in which she played Elvis Presley’s mother, “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (1960), “All Fall Down” (1962), and so on. Angela’s most known character is Jessica Fletcher in “Murder, She Wrote.”

Jessica Fletcher brought her an Emmy Award nomination every year, from 1985 to 1996, in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category.

Angela Lansbury’s career has been recently recognized despite a long stint in musical theaters and movie screens. In 2014, she received an honorary Academy Award. 

She also lent her voice to several Disney characters, including Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) and “Anastacia” (1997).

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