“Been up to anything interesting lately?” Paddy asked as I joined him at our regular table at the coffee shop.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” I replied.
“Do tell,” he urged.
“We saw Blithe Spirit at the Princess of Wales,” I told him.
“I didn’t think you were much of a live theatre buff,” Paddy suggested.
“I’m not,” I agreed, “but Angela Lansbury is in it; and I’ve been in love with her since I saw her in the movie National Velvet.”
“Good Lord, that was seventy years ago!” Paddy exclaimed, “You were only seven years old!”
“I was actually eight,” I corrected him. “I saw it in Morell, PEI, right after the war.
“Everybody else in the world fell for Elizabeth Taylor,” he went on. “How come you fell for Angela Lansbury?”
“Her eyes,” I said.
“Well, whatever,” Paddy said, and then asked, “How was the play, and how was Angela?”
“Best play I ever saw,” I answered. “I chuckled or laughed for the whole two hours. All seven of the cast were phenomenal and Angela was the most phenomenal of all. She’s re-defined the role of Madame Arcati to the point where I pity any actress that plays it from now on.”
“And I read somewhere that she’s almost ninety years old,” Paddy said.
“That’s right,” I agreed. “She’s the Gordie Howe of acting.”
“How so?” Paddy prodded.
“Her longevity and accomplishments,” I replied.
“Well,” Paddy said, “no argument about longevity I guess, but make your case about accomplishments.”
“I did some basic research on this after we saw the play,” I informed him, “and I was able to determine that counting Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, and some other industry categories, she had more than 50 nominations and over 20 wins.”
“Did you say she won a Grammy? Isn’t that a music award?” Paddy questioned.
“That’s how most people regard it,” I agreed, “but technically it’s a recording award. And she’s actually won four Grammys. Her voice-over recording from Beauty and the Beast won in the best children’s album category one year, and she also was co-winner of three other Grammys in the theatre recording category.”
“You compared her to Gordie Howe for longevity,” Paddy pointed out. “I obviously agree with that, but knowing you, I’m sure you dug up some stats that clearly back this up.”
“Indeed I do,” I assured him. “She’s been in show business for over 70 years. She has 104 movie credits, 22 major stage show credits, and 37 TV credits, not including Murder She Wrote.”
“How many Murder episodes did she do?” Paddy wanted to know.
“264 over 12 seasons,” I informed him.
“Wow!” was Paddy’s reaction.
“Now consider this,” I went on. “Her movie career spanned 67 years, from 1944 to 2011; her TV career spanned 55 years, from 1950 to 2005; and her major stage career started 58 years ago.”
“Truly incredible,” Paddy acknowledged.
“And she’s not finished yet,” I pointed out.
“Is Angela Lansbury her real name?” Paddy wanted to know, his interest in Ms Lansbury obviously piqued.
“It is,” I assured him.
“And you probably even know her middle name,” Paddy suggested.
“Yes,” I smugly replied, “it’s Bridgid.”
“How many marriages did she have?” Paddy asked.
“Two,” I told him, “a very short one as a teenager, and then her real one, to a chap named Peter Shaw, that lasted for 54 years until his death.”
“Does she have any children?” Paddy continued.
“Two, a son and a daughter,” I was able to tell him.
“So she was in a lot of movies,” Paddy went on, “but other than National Velvet, was she in any other big ones?”
“She sure was,” I told him. “She was in The Picture of Dorian Grey; Samson and Delilah; The Manchurian Candidate; and, The Greatest Story Ever Told”
“What about the stage, other than Blithe Spirit?” was his next question.
“Mame; Gypsy; and Sweeney Todd come to mind,” I said.
“You really are hooked on her, aren’t you?” Paddy said as he got up and left.
“It was her eyes,” I murmured to his departing back.