The Adoring Angela Lansbury Blogathon is hosted by Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews. Enjoy all of the contributions collected HERE.
"There is something a little bit mysterious and interesting about her and that certainly appeals to me... Mystery is my business, as you know."
- Angela Lansbury speaking of her character in Mary Poppins Returns, 2019
Murder, She Wrote starring Tony winner and Oscar and Emmy-nominated actress Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher ran on CBS for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996. The series was followed by 4 made-for-TV movies: South by Southwest in 1996, A Story to Die For in 2000, The Last Free Man in 2001, and The Celtic Riddle in 2003. Fans have not given up hope for another visit with J.B. Fletcher.
Angela Lansbury, Anthony Shaw
The Last Free Man is the only Murder, She Wrote script from producer and writer Matthew Sommer. All of the Murder, She Wrote TV movies and 68 episodes of the series were directed by Anthony Shaw who seems to know exactly how to handle his star Angela Lansbury without letting his mother Angela Lansbury get in the way.
"The truth. That is the most elusive of mysteries."
- Cassandra Hawkins (Phylicia Rashad)
Jessica Fletcher is in Virginia to look into the history of her family who came from Ireland and settled in the area in the 18th century. While attending a lecture by historian Dr. Cassandra Hawkins played by special guest star Phylicia Rashad, Jessica is made aware of a disturbing historical connection.
Dr. Hawkins is descended from a slave called Samuel Pickney who died prior to the beginning of the Civil War as the accused murderer of a landowner named Robert Mercer. Samuel Pickney was the property of Sarah McCullough, a distant aunt of Jessica Fletcher. Cassandra confirms the connection with a family heirloom; a silver watch engraved "To Samuel Pickney from S. McCullough."
David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Phylicia Rashad
Dr. Hawkins is investigating what she sees as questionable proofs in the murder case against her long ago grandfather, including the presence of two gravesites for the man, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania
Combining their forces, and using archival papers, including letters and Sarah McCullogh's journal, the ladies search for the truth. Their quest brings them into conflict with local historian Stanford Thornton played by David Ogden Stiers. His goal is to preserve the past as culture and fears an agenda on Cassandra's part. Her only agenda is to face uncomfortable truths. Will Thornton hinder their efforts or will he be challenged to assist in the inquiry?
Phylicia Rashad, Gloria Stuart, Angela Lansbury
Cassandra and Jessica are led in their research to Eliza Hoops, a woman past 100 years of age played by Gloria Stuart (91 at the time). Eliza has memories of her grandfather and the "magic train" with the passengers who were not to be disturbed.
The Last Free Man is told in two equally riveting sections. The search for the truth in the contemporary day and the telling of the story of Samuel Pickney and Sarah McCullough in Antebellum Virginia. In the "story" sequence Angela Lansbury plays the role of Sarah opposite Michael Jace as Samuel.
Robert Mercer played by Tim Dekay is murdered on the night of his wedding to the daughter of a wealthy slaveholder. A jealous ex-beau of the bride's, the overbearing father-in-law, and an opportunistic newspaper editor are among those in attendance when Sarah and Samuel arrive at the wedding. Samuel is subjected to abuse from the former beau, a Confederate officer played by Tim Abell. The officer quickly arouses feeling against Samuel following the murder.
Angela Lansbury, Keith Jefferson, Michael Jace, Taraji P. Henson
Sarah displays the characteristics that have been passed down to Jessica. She will not see an injustice without fighting it, and she will not see anyone in trouble without helping. Sarah's investigation debunks flimsy evidence and reveals a shocking secret between Samuel and the murdered Robert Mercer. Nonetheless, she is unable to prevent tragedy and is stopped at every turn from revealing a truth that is not accepted by her community. It will be a much future generation that will discover that healing truth and spread its word with the unexpected help of Stanford Thornton.
Angela Lansbury as Sarah McCullough
The compelling stories told in The Last Free Man are well presented and it is a special treat to see Angela Lansbury in the role of Sarah McCullough, with her soft southern accent and steely determination in the face of a patriarchal and bigoted society.
David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach
Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere
Beauty and the Beast
Angela Lansbury and David Ogden Stiers appeared together previously in 3 episodes of Murder, She Wrote, the TV Movie The First Olympics: 1896, and share a Grammy Award for the soundtrack album for Beauty and the Beast. Let's not forget Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth also pop up in the Beauty and the Beast sequels/spinoffs/games.
Gloria Stuart as Edna Jarvis
The Days Dwindle Down
Gloria Stuart guested on a popular season 3 Murder, She Wrote episode The Days Dwindle Down which acts as a sequel to the 1949 movie Strange Bargain.