As any good musical theater buff knows, "there is nothin' like a dame." After decades of service to the performing arts through her performances and her philanthropy, living stage legend Angela Lansbury will join an elite class of women as London rings in 2014. Lansbury will be made a dame of the British Empire on January 1 as Britain names the honorees at its annual New Year Honors ceremony.
Born in East London, Lansbury has enjoyed an extensive career on Broadway and West End stages and currently shares the record for the most performance Tony Awards with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald. Her five wins were for her performances in Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and Blithe Spirit. Her screen work has also earned her six Golden Globe Awards, an Academy Award nomination, 18 Emmy Award nominations, and an Honorary Oscar.
She is best known to American audiences for her role as Jessica Fletcher in the detective series Murder, She Wrote and has been featured in a number of films including The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Beauty and the Beast, for which she famously lent her voice to the singing teapot, Mrs. Potts. In addition to performing, Lansbury has supported a number of arts-related philanthropies including Actors Fund of America, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and Career Transitions for Dancers.
Already having been awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire), Lansbury will now receive her damehood (DBE) "for services to drama and to charitable work and philanthropy." She receives the honor along with fellow actress Penelope Keith (To the Manor Born) and Tony-nominated dancer/choreographer Gillian Lynne (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as well as Tony-winning actor Michael Crawford (The Phantom of the Opera), who will be elevated from OBE to CBE.