The Story Of How Angela Lansbury Became A Dame

Angela Lansbury, who died on October 11, 2022, at the age of 96, was honored on several occasions throughout her long career, per The New York Times. Lansbury's death was confirmed in a family statement, which explained the late actor died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles, according to Broadway World. Those accolades that Lansbury received in her lifetime include a number of Tony, Emmy, and Grammy nominations, three Oscar nods, and an honorary Academy Award in 2014 (via IMDb).

Also around that same time, Lansbury — who was born in England but moved to the U.S. during World War II — received a very important honor from Queen Elizabeth II: She was made a dame, or the female equivalent to knighthood, per USA Today. Elizabeth's decision to make Lansbury a dame — or a dame commander of the British Empire, to be specific — reflects not only Lansbury's good work on stage and screen but also her dedication to philanthropy.

Lansbury was working in London's West End

As USA Today notes, Angela Lansbury was working in live theater in London's West End when she was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth. The decision to give Lansbury damehood was made not just for her decades-long career as an actor but for her support of several charity causes, particularly those involved in AIDS research. In 1996, Playbill reported Lansbury had at that time helped raise $1 million for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

In her speech at the 1996 event "Angela Lansbury — A Celebration," in honor of Lansbury's support, the late actor said, referring to AIDS research (via Playbill), "Never give up on the fight until the war is won. And we will win!" Also at that event, classic Hollywood star Lauren Bacall said, "Angela is one of the few people who really deserves a tribute like this."

Lansbury was honored to meet the queen

On the occasion of her damehood ceremony with Queen Elizabeth, which took place at Windsor Castle, Angela Lansbury said she was honored to be recognized by the queen in the country of her birth. "[T]o meet the queen under these circumstances is a rare and lovely occasion," she said (via USA Today). Having also just recently received an honorary Oscar at that time, Lansbury, who was then 88, said (via the BBC), "[The Academy Award] is for my work in motion pictures and this is for the overall accomplishments of my life as an actress." With her 2014 damehood, Angela Lansbury joined the likes of English actors Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren, per People.

In her long career on film, TV, and the stage, Lansbury is perhaps most well-known for her role as Jessica Fletcher on the long-running crime show "Murder, She Wrote." Early in her career, she also starred in "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" for Disney and "The Manchurian Candidate" alongside Frank Sinatra.