Angela Lansbury's Bizarre Connection To The Manson Family

Perhaps no other figure represents the darker side of Hollywood than Charles Manson. The career criminal who eventually grew into a cult of personality that claimed the lives of nine known victims — though more are suspected — had brushes with successful people while they were alive and rising, as well as having a heavy hand in some of their deaths. 

The mastermind behind the Tate-LaBianca massacres claimed the life of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, the wife of actor and director Roman Polanski. Manson had set his sights on the home Tate was residing in as it belonged to Doris Day's son Terry Melcher, whom Manson thought he would be having murdered. According to The Daily Mail Manson was mad after Melcher said he could get Manson's music released on Day's record label, but she essentially laughed in Manson's face. Melcher wasn't at the Cielo Drive house when Manson's cult followers were sent to kill. Instead, they found Tate entertaining celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and others. 

Hollywood legends abound with all of the acquaintances Manson was able to make in the late 1960s, ranging from A-list musicians to D-list movie actors. But what many might not realize is that three-time Oscar nominee (per IMDb) and Tony Award-winning actress Angela Lansbury had a close encounter with Manson that she feared would take the life of her daughter. 

Lansbury has a storied career in films and television

While many people remember Lansbury for the long-running series "Murder, She Wrote," the actress has a career that far supersedes the fame she garnered from starring in a mystery series in her later years. But after 12 seasons and 264 episodes of playing mystery-writer-turned-detective Jessica Fletcher on CBS, it's hard for some people to remember her playing anything but. Her performance on the series resulted in her being nominated for 12 Prime Time Emmy Awards for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and one Screen Actors Guild nomination (per IMDb). 

Successful as this show certainly was, it's only the endcap of a successful career in entertainment for one of Hollywood's most beloved actresses. Lansbury had her breakout role as a supporting actress in the 1944 film "Gaslight," which earned her an Oscar nomination. Two films later, she was nominated again for an Oscar, this time for playing the role of Sybil Vane in the Albert Lewin-directed film "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (per IMDb). 

Lansbury took roles in dozens of films over the next 20 years as well as spending time on stage. Her performance in the musical "Mame Dennis" led to her winning the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical in 1966. With two young teenagers in tow, Lansbury had her hands full juggling a wildly successful career as well as a son and daughter who were growing dangerously close to some of the worst of the elements in southern California.

Lansbury revealed that her 2 teens were heading down the wrong path

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Lansbury discusses how the life she shared with actor Peter Shaw was nearly upended when the two discovered that both of their young teenage children were experimenting with heavy drugs. "It started with cannabis but moved on to heroin," Lansbury explained in the interview. 

Her son Anthony and daughter Deidre were "barely teenagers," according to their mother when she began to notice subtle changes in their behaviors. Lansbury knew she and Shaw needed to take action, especially when they noticed the element that their teens were associating with. According to the book, "Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson," Deidre had been stealing her mother's credit cards, and Manson was using the young girl for spending sprees all over Los Angeles. On several occasions, she was picked up from school by Manson himself. 

Though not a killer at the time, Manson was certainly starting to gather his flock of wayward youths to join his murderous cult. Lansbury pointed out that there were some "factions in the hills dedicated to deadly pursuits," and that her daughter was beginning to associate herself with a group of people that were being led by Manson himself. Concerned about her children's drug problems and perhaps alarmed at how her daughter was fascinated with Manson, Lansbury decided to act quickly to avoid things escalating. She and Shaw made some big decisions that they felt would get their children out of harm's way and back on track.

Lansbury took drastic measures to keep her children safe

Lansbury describes how she and Shaw decided to immediately pull up stakes and move their entire family to Ireland (per The Daily Mail). Lansbury found a house in County Cork, where she settled with Shaw and their children. Being so far from the bad influences that her son and daughter had been subjected to was a big step in the road to their recovery. Lansbury stated, "I was drawn to Ireland because it was the birthplace of my mother and it was also somewhere my children wouldn't be exposed to any more bad influences."

The actress talks about how doctors in Ireland prescribed her children methadone so that they could be weaned off of the heroin that they had been addicted to. She noted that Anthony recovered quickly from his addiction while it admittedly took Diedre a bit more time. Lansbury remains convinced that had she and Shaw not have intervened that they would have lost the lives of one or both of their children.

Where are Lansbury's children today?

Lansbury was happy to report that after moving away from what she considered to be bad elements, both of her children were able to undergo successful treatment and are leading very happy and healthy lives. In her interview with The Daily Mail, Lansbury boasts that her daughter and son-in-law live in Los Angeles and are running their own Italian restaurant. 

Their son Anthony traveled down a bit of the same path as Lansbury. Anthony Pullen Shaw, as he is billed, was a stage and screen actor in the 1970s and 1980s. But his biggest success might be his directorial work. In fact, the once-troubled son of Lansbury grew up to direct multiple made-for-television movies as well as sat in the director's chair for almost 70 episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" (per IMDb). Now retired, he lives with his wife, Lee. The couple has three children.

Lansbury wasn't the only Hollywood star to have a brush with Manson

Being centered around Hollywood and with the desire to become an accomplished musician, it's not surprising that Manson had more than one brush with the stars of the 1960s. Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil was affiliated with guitarist Arthur Lee of the band Love and used his connections to try to get Manson into the who's who of the LA music scene. Through Beausoleil and other connections, Manson struck up acquaintances with Neil Young and Jackson Browne, and even performed for Mama Cass of the group The Mamas and the Papas (via "Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson"). 

Dennis Wilson of Beach Boys fame was well-known to Manson. According to The Daily Mail, the drummer had picked up two of Manson's lady Family members while hitchhiking, which led him to Manson's compound. Wilson became friendly with cult members, even allowing some of them to move into his home. 

But perhaps actor Bryan Cranston summed up his brush with Manson best. He and his cousin were riding horses on the Spahn Movie Ranch, where Manson and his followers had recently taken up refuge. When Manson died in 2017, Cranston Tweeted, "I was within his grasp just one year before he committed brutal murder in 1969. Luck was with me when a cousin and I went horseback riding at the Span Ranch and saw the little man with crazy eyes whom the other hippies called Charlie."