Ten random connection connections between Angela Lansbury and Australia

She was the distant cousin of Coral Lansbury, top Aussie radio writer, and mother of Malcolm Turnbull.

Coral Lansbury was a particularly colourful character – a brilliant woman who succeeded in many spheres including academia and radio drama. She had a colourful love life, giving birth to Malcolm out of wedlock (this was in the 1950s!) before marrying Malcolm’s dad, then leaving him. Angela and Coral weren’t cousin cousins – Coral was the daughter of Angela’s grandfather’s cousin – but the two knew each other. Apparently, in the mid-1980s Angela challenged Coral to write something other than academic tomes, resulting in four novels.

She played an Aussie on US TV in 1959’s The Grey Nurse Said Nothing by Sumner Locke Elliot

This was shot in New York where there weren’t a lot of Aussie actors. If ever there was an Australian story being filmed (it did happen), producers typically roped in Brits instead. I’ve written about this production. Lansbury plays a horny spinster, as they were known then.

Played an Aussie (ish) in the 1959 film version of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Film rights to the classic Australian play were bought by Hecht Hill Lancaster, who at one stage envisioned it as a vehicle for Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth, who had just been in Separate Tables. Enthusiasm for the project cooled after the play flopped on Broadway, resulting in HHL sending out a “second eleven” of stars – John Mills, Ernest Borgnine, Anne Baxter and Angela Lansbury. Lansbury’s fine in the film, by the way. It’s not a very good movie, but that’s more the fault of the script which makes idiotic changes. At least it was shot in Australia and Angela always said she had a good time here on location.

Co-starred several times with Rod Taylor – some on 1950s TV (Verdict of Three) and some Murder She Wrote eps in the 1990s (where Rod played an Irishman).

Lansbury had a long-ranging professional association with Rod Taylor, spanning decades. Their work together on the Murder She Wrote episodes is delightful, and Lansbury appeared as a talking head in the documentary on Rod’s career, Pulling No Punches. Read about it here.

Co-starred against Peter Finch in In the Cool of the Day (1963).

A not particularly well remembered MGM flop from the 1960s, during that period where critics would routinely write “Angela Lansbury stole the show in her support role”, and she did, but she wouldn’t get leads, so she went off to Broadway.

Toured here in Driving Miss Daisy in 2013 opposite James Earl Jones.

I’m not sure if that play has been cancelled now, but it wasn’t back then. Here’s an article from the production at the time, where a lot of publicity was made about the Malcolm Turnbull angle.

She’s in the mini series The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (1984), which featured the Australian Olympian Edwin Flack as a character.

Flack is played by English actor Benedict Taylor.

In The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965), she’s opposite Aussie Leo McKern.

Leo McKern appeared opposite everyone in the sixties, I know, but still, it’s worth mentioning. Here’s a clip from this Tom Jones knock off.

In a Randolph Scott Western (!) A Lawless Street (1955) she appears alongside Aussie Michael Pate.

Lansbury made a few programmers in the 1950s to pay the rent – swashbucklers, Westerns. Here, she is singing a song in a saloon, bless her. Never phoned it in, did Angela.

In a String of Beads (1954) for US TV opposite Aussie Ron Randell.

TV was Lansbury’s salvation in the 1950s – classy anthology dramas such as these, which adapts a Somerset Maugham Story. Angela gets romantic with Aussie heartthrob Ron Randell who I wrote about here.

You can see the whole thing here. Directed by William Cameron Menzies!

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