Tale as old as time: You star in a long-running detective show that helps inspire one of the greatest dancehall singles of all time, and yet nobody thinks to play you that song until 27 years later. Angela Lansbury is a living legend of stage and screen, and she needs to have better people working for her.
The Jamaican dancehall duo Chaka Demus and Pliers originally released their single “Murder She Wrote” in 1992. It is an absolute unimpeachable classic of the genre, an iconic jam. People still sample “Murder She Wrote” all the time, and if it comes on at a party, it’s an instant singalong. Angela Lansbury had not heard it before yesterday.
Yesterday, the CBC Radio host Tom Power interviewed Lansbury on Canadian national radio. Lansbury, now 93, has had a career of amazing scope and longevity. She made her film debut in 1944, starring that year in both George Cukor’s Gaslight and Clarence Brown’s National Velvet. She was the villain of John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate in 1962, the kindhearted witch in Bedknobs & Broomsticks in 1971, and the singing teapot in Beauty & The Beast in 1991. Last year, Lansbury had an extended cameo in Mary Poppins Returns. And for 12 seasons, Lansbury was Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer who keeps coincidentally running across murders that need solving, on the CBS procedural Murder She Wrote. That, of course, was where she inspired the Chaka Demus & Pliers song that might be her greatest cultural legacy.
Lansbury as on CBC radio to talk about the 35th anniversary of “Murder She Wrote,” and Tom Power played her a clip of the song “Murder She Wrote,” asking if she knew it. She didn’t know anything about it, but she cackled gloriously while seeming slightly confused: “Are they… what are they? A group?” When informed that Chaka Demus and Pliers are reggae legends, Lansbury said, “Oh, reggae! Oh, I’m thrilled to be a part of reggae! Of course!” If you are a 93-year-old acting queen and you have just learned that you are a part of reggae, this is the exact right response. Below, listen to that great interview moment and check out the “Murder She Wrote” video.
🔊 "Oh, I'm thrilled to be part of reggae." 🔊
— q (@cbcradioq) September 30, 2019
Angela Lansbury is British. “Murder She Wrote” was a #27 hit in the UK. Someone should’ve played her that song a long time ago. Just saying.