Edgar Lansbury, Tony-Winning Producer and Brother of Angela Lansbury, Dies at 94

Edgar Lansbury, the Tony-winning producer and younger brother of famed actress Angela Lansbury who guided the Broadway and big-screen versions of The Subject Was Roses and Godspell, has died. He was 94.

He died Thursday at his home in Manhattan, his son David Lansbury told The Hollywood Reporter.

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Lansbury also produced the popular 1974-75 Broadway revival of Gypsy that starred his sister in a Tony-winning turn and worked on other films including The Wild Party (1975), directed by James Ivory.

Angela Lansbury, winner of five Tony Awards and star of Murder, She Wrote, died on Oct. 11, 2022, at age 96. His twin brother, TV producer Bruce Lansbury, died in February 2017 at age 87.

Lansbury’s first Broadway production, the intense family drama The Subject Was Roses, opened in 1964, ran for two years, and won a Pulitzer Prize and the Tony for best play. Written by Frank Gilroy and directed by Ulu Grosbard, it starred Martin Sheen as a returning veteran and son of warring parents played by Jack Albertson and Irene Dailey.

Sheen, Albertson, Gilroy and Grosbard then reprised their roles for the MGM version, with Albertson backing up his Tony victory by winning the Oscar for supporting actor opposite Patricia Neal as his wife.

Invited by future Hill Street Blues actor Charles Haid to a performance of Godspell at the New York experimental theater club La MaMa in March 1971, Lansbury and his frequent producing partner Joseph Beruh took the musical to the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre in 1971 and then to Broadway in 1976. (Victor Garber played Jesus in the 1973 Columbia adaptation.)

The onetime scenic designer also received Drama Desk nominations in 1977 and 1998, respectively, for producing American Buffalo, starring Robert Duvall in David Mamet’s Broadway debut, and Douglas Carter Beane’s As Bees in Honey Drown.

In 2007, he was presented with the John Houseman Award from The Acting Company to honor his commitment to the development of classical actors and a national audience for the theater. (He served on its board of directors for more than four decades since its start in 1972.)

Angela Lansbury and brother Edgar Lansbury
Edgar Lansbury and sister Angela Lansbury in 2012

Edgar George Lansbury was born in London on Jan. 12, 1930. His mother, Moyna Macgill, was a Belfast-born stage actress, and his father, also Edgar, was a politician and timber merchant. His grandfather was George Lansbury, a former Labor Party leader in England and a member of Parliament.

As World War II was heating up, he came to New York in 1940 aboard a refugee boat with his sister, brother and mother (his dad had died of stomach cancer when Edgar was 4). They lived in upstate New York and then in Greenwich Village before he and Bruce attended the Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut.

After the twins joined their mom and Angela in Los Angeles — both women had landed acting contracts at MGM by then — he graduated from University High School, served in the U.S. Army for two years and became a U.S. citizen in 1954.

Lansbury studied drawing and painting at the Otis Art Institute and at UCLA, then landed a job as art director at CBS Television City. He worked as an art director on The Red Skelton Hour, Climax!, Studio One, Playhouse 90 and The Defenders and on the 1962 film War Hunt, starring John Saxon.

In 1967, he produced Coronet Blue, a CBS drama that starred Frank Converse as an amnesia victim in search of his true identity.

With Beruh, Lansbury took a 10-year lease on a hotel ballroom on Broadway at 76th Street in New York and designed and built the 400-seat Promenade Theater, which opened in 1969. The venue hosted hundreds of plays before shuttering in 2006.

Lansbury’s producing résumé also included the Broadway projects The Only Game in Town, Doug Henning’s The Magic Show, The Night That Made America Famous and Lennon; off-Broadway revivals of Waiting for Godot and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (with a cast that included Robert Ryan, Stacy Keach and Geraldine Fitzgerald); and the 1977 film Blue Sunshine.

In his later years, he turned to painting and sculpture.

In addition to David, an actor, survivors include his second wife, artist Louise Peabody (they married in 2008), and his other children, James (an assistant director on Seinfeld), George, Michael, Brian and Kate.

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