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Angela Lansbury wins record-tying fifth Tony Award

June 7, 2009 |  5:38 pm

Angela Lansbury already holds one Tony Awards record — hosting the ceremony more often than anyone else (five times) — and now she has tied a second with her win tonight. In rare form as the medium in "Blithe Spirit," Angela Lansbury picked up her fifth Tony Award, winning the featured (supporting) actress in a play race. Angela Lansbury's previous four victories were all for lead actress in a musical: "Mame" (1966), "Dear World" (1969), "Gypsy" (1975) and "Sweeney Todd" (1979).

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Julie Harris won five times for lead actress in a play: "I Am a Camera" (1952), "The Lark" (1956), "Forty Carats" (1969), "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" (1973) and "The Belle of Amherst" (1977). And Harris still holds the record for most nominations for a performer with 10 nods.

But was Lansbury's role as the wacky Madame Arcati really a "featured" one? It was placed in that category after "Blithe Spirit" producers requested that classification from the Tony nominating committee, knowing that Lansbury had better odds of prevailing there.

The original 1941 run of "Blithe Spirit" predated the Tony Awards by six years. However, in the 1964 musical version – "High Spirits" – Beatrice Lillie contended in lead, losing to Carol Channing for "Hello, Dolly!" And for the 1987 revival Geraldine Page was also in lead for playing Madame Arcati. She lost to Linda Lavin in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound."

Lansbury has lost only one Tony race — when she competed for best lead actress in a play for "Deuce" two years ago and was bested by Julie White ("The Little Dog Laughed").  However, she failed to prevail in any of her three Oscar nods for supporting actress ("Gaslight," 1944; "The Picture of Dorian Gray," 1945; and "The Manchurian Candidate," 1962). And she holds the dubious distinction of having lost more Emmy races for acting than any other performer — 18 times, including 12 consecutive nominations for lead actress in a drama series for "Murder, She Wrote" from 1985 to 1996 and two for hosting the Tonycast.

Photo: Shubert Theatre

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Comments

Why was nothing mentioned about Angela Lansbury's role in The Picture Of Dorian Gray? She did an outstanding job as the darling Sibyl Vane and was only 19 or 20 at the time ~ 1945.

There was no doubt in my mind that she'd win. I'm sure the others here would agree!

Congratulations Angela - Bea would have been so happy for you and proud of your latest achievement. Meg down under

Angela should have tied Patty Duke for the Oscar in 1962. While Patty won for "Miracle Worker," Lansbury was phenomenal as the senator's very evil wife in "Manchurian Candidate."

Angela Lansbury is one of the greatest talents of all time, a true icon and so versatile. Of all living icons, she is one I would love to meet most.

Angela Lansbury is an amazing actress and a lady. I was a nursing director working in San Luis Obispo in the mid-eighties when a family member was hospitalized. She NEVER had an attitude, always gracious, always thoughtful and bought the nurses station a microwave for their efforts. It was our blessing to have her around for a two week period of time. What a sweetheart she is !! A reward well deserved.!

I saw Angela in Blithe Spirit this April and found her to be an outstanding asset to the team on stage. She was the life of the play - full of energy and quick lines. She deserves another Tony!!


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