It’s not often that we see romance last for long in Hollywood beyond the silver screen. But Angela Lansbury and Peter Shaw were the exaction to that rule. Married in 1949 (second marriages for them both), they were married 54 years before Peter died of heart failure in 2003.
For the under 40 set, who may not remember Angela, get on Netflix and find the series Murder She Wrote. Angela was the star and eventually produced the show for several of its twelve very successful seasons. But the rest of us will also think of her in her stage and film roles, like Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Sweeney Todd, The King and I and Mame. Her acting career spans over eight decades and earned her the title of Dame Angela Lansbury, as she’s an English and Irish American.
Married first when she eloped with a man sixteen years her senior (Richard Cromwell), that marriage only lasted for a year. But it wasn’t long after that she met Peter Shaw, also a British actor, and the two married in 1949. Peter brought with him a son (now Angela’s step-son) and together the two had two additional children, a boy and a girl.
Work life took Angela away from the kids and often to California, but they were raised by their parents in the Episcopal Church (although the rarely attended services, instead following the belief that the “church” is all around you). However, it was the 60’s and 70’s and both of their younger children became involved in the counter culture movement, with their daughter becoming an acquaintance of the Manson Family. Perhaps that’s why Angela and Peter moved to County Cork, Ireland in 1970, whisking everyone away from issues at home in the US.
Both children eventually overcame their drug issues and went on to marry and work professionally – their son was a director for 68 episodes of Murder She Wrote and their daughter opened a restaurant with her Chef husband in West Los Angeles.
Angela was quoted as saying about her marriage, ” We had the perfect relationship. Not many people can say that.” While no one really knows what goes on between two people, especially in Hollywood, she was right about the last part. And I’d like to think that there is a happy ending love story that comes out of tinsel town now and then, that isn’t just on film.