Manson, She Wrote: How Angela Lansbury saved her daughter from joining Charles Manson's cult
Manson, she warned.
Angela Lansbury was recently taken from us (far too soon at the tender age of 96), but as a result of her passing, all sorts of great stories about the beloved acting legend are resurfacing.
One such tidbit takes us back to the Hollywood Hills of the 1960s, when Charles Manson was recruiting kids of the famous and well-to-do into what would become his infamous murder cult. Manson wooed, or attempted to woo, the likes of Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day, Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, and Lansbury's kids, Anthony and Deidre Shaw.
Dame Lansbury recounted how Deidre in particular fell under Manson's sway and how she plucked both her kids out of Hollywood and absconded to Ireland in a 2014 interview with Mail Online.
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"It started with cannabis but moved on to heroin. There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits," Lansbury told the Mail. "It pains me to say it but, at one stage, Deidre was in with a crowd led by Charles Manson. She was one of many youngsters who knew him — and they were fascinated. He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it."
Deidre was apparently helping to financially support the Manson family and in 1968, Lansbury and her husband Peter Shaw discovered her drug use and cut off her credit cards. But to truly escape the pull of Manson and the counterculture, the Gaslight actress put her career on hold, picked up her family, and moved completely out of the country.
"We upped sticks and moved the family to a house I found in County Cork," Lansbury said. "I was drawn to Ireland because it was the birthplace of my mother, and it was also somewhere my children wouldn't be exposed to any more bad influences. I still have a house there which I try and visit at least once a year. So I refused all work for a year and simply kept house."
"It was a wonderful time in my life," she added. And the transplant had the desired effect on her children. Anthony "pulled right out of his bad habits quite quickly," though it took Deidre "a little longer," but she eventually got there. Anthony became a television director, directing 68 episodes of his mother's hit show Murder, She Wrote, while Deidre got married and opened up an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles (which has since closed).
Lansbury's timing was fortuitous, as in 1969, three members of the Manson family murdered a pregnant Sharon Tate and four others in cold blood. Manson would spend the rest of his life in jail, dying at age 83 in 2017.
"Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two if they hadn't been removed to a completely different milieu, the simplicity of life in Ireland," Lansbury noted. "We were so very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time."