‘Gaslight’ Actress on Gay Husband: “I Don’t Regret It.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha

Legendary actress Angela Lansbury passed away in her sleep two days ago, a mere five days before her 97th birthday.

The British-American actress, a 3x Oscar Nominee, leaves behind an astounding resume including classics such as Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate and numerous Disney animated voice-overs. However, she’s most known for playing the main character in “Murder, She Wrote” from 1984 to 1996.

She also leaves behind her status as a gay icon and a story of forgiveness in regard to her first husband, Richard Cromwell.

The pair married in 1945, when Lansbury was just 19 and her husband was 35. The marriage lasted only 9 months, with Lansbury returning home to find a handwritten note stating that Cromwell had left and was asking for a divorce. Although she never addressed the divorce during its field-day in the press, Angela divulged information in radio interviews in the 2010’s.

According to Pink News, she told Radio Times in 2017:

I found him to be such an attractive individual. He wanted to marry. He was fascinated with me, but only because of what he had seen on the screen. I had no idea that I was marrying a gay man. It didn’t injure or damage me because he maintained a friendship with me and my future husband. But it was a shock to me when it ended. I wasn’t prepared for that. It was just a terrible error I made when I was a very young woman. But I don’t regret it.

Then, according to Irish Mirror, she addressed the topic again on Terry Gross’ Fresh Air:

I had known so many gay people in Hollywood. It just never really sunk in that I was in love one. It was a shock. When it turned out that he was gay, I never blamed him for it in any way. I realized that I had just made an error, an emotional error. But I don’t regret it because I learned so much during the shirt time that we were together.

Richard Cromwell while filming When Strangers Meet in 1934

Angela remarried in 1949. Her second husband, Peter Shaw, was a bit part player turned talent agent. The couple remained married for over 50 years until his death in 2003.

It’s nice to see that the actress was so understanding, especially in the 40’s when homosexuality was still listed as a mental disorder. Not only did keeping her mouth shut save Cromwell’s career, but it probably saved him from bodily harm as well. It’s a sad parallel we see today, even in the 2020’s, where gay men force themselves to play straight to avoid prejudice.

Love is love, and self-love is important too!

Angela Lansbury can be seen on screen one final time when Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery debuts on Netflix this December. 

Rest in peace, legend!

Sources: Pink News, Irish Mirror 

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