How Angela Lansbury was once the richest woman in television history

The 'Murder, She Wrote' star died Tuesday at 96

Angela Lansbury, one of Hollywood's most legendary stars, died Tuesday at 96.

"The children of Dame Angela Lansbury are sad to announce that their mother died peacefully in her sleep at home in Los Angeles at 1:30 a.m. today, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, just five days shy of her 97th birthday," her family said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

"In addition to her three children, Anthony, Deirdre and David, she is survived by three grandchildren, Peter, Katherine and Ian, plus five great-grandchildren and her brother, producer Edgar Lansbury," the statement added. "She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Peter Shaw. A private family ceremony will be held at a date to be determined."

Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury was the wealthiest woman in television history at one time due to her role in "Murder, She Wrote." (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The "Murder, She Wrote" star earned six Golden Globes and 18 Emmy nominations and an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures. Lansbury was also a National Medal of Arts recipient and has a Kennedy Center Honor.


Lansbury was once the wealthiest woman in television history thanks to her breakout role in "Murder, She Wrote." 

The actress captivated hearts while portraying Jessica Fletcher. Twenty-eight million viewers tuned in weekly from 1985 to 1996, the Daily Mail reported.

Angela Lansbury "Murder, She Wrote"

"Murder, She Wrote" ran for 12 seasons and garnered numerous accolades. (CBS via Getty Images / Getty Images)

According to the outlet, Lansbury’s salary went from $40,000 an episode to $200,000, and she became executive producer of the show.

Lansbury revealed in 1984 in an interview with People that she almost did not land the role of Jessica Fletcher.


"Peter Fischer had originally written it for Jean Stapleton, but she had just lost her husband and didn't want to do anything," Lansbury told the outlet. 

Lansbury portrayed the mystery writer and amateur detective on the CBS series for its 12-season run from 1984 to 1996.

"When I read it, I felt that Peter's script could have been written for me. Besides, there are so few decent roles for women on television, and I was immediately taken by Jessica," Lansbury added. 

Angela Lansbury Golden Globe

Angela Lansbury holds up her Golden Globe award, which she won for best performance by an actress in a TV series drama for her performance in "Murder, She Wrote." (Getty Images / Getty Images)

Prior to landing her starring role, Lansbury had been known primarily for her work on stage. 

"There was nothing exciting for me on Broadway at the moment," Lansbury recalled. "Within the same week, I was sent two television scripts. One was a situation comedy from Norman Lear and the other was the two-hour pilot for ‘Murder, She Wrote.’"


According to Celebrity Net Worth, Lansbury had a net worth of $70 million at the time of her death. She was the oldest living Academy Award nominee when she died.

Fox News Digital's Will Mendelson contributed to this report.