This past week the world was saddened by the passing of Angela Lansbury, British-born Hollywood actress and Broadway sensation. Here in Putnam County we remember “Bridget”, who, along with her younger twin brothers and Irish actress mother, fled the Nazi Blitz of London during World War II and lived for a time at “Cobble Stone Posts”, the summer home of C.T. Wilson on Lake Boulevard in Mahopac.
Before heading to Hollywood, the Lansburys were active in social circles around Lake Mahopac including fund raisers for hospitals and war causes. “Bridget”, as she was known locally, was even in the running for the Lake Mahopac Business Men’s Association crowning of 1941’s Lake Mahopac Queen.
The following transcription comes from the Putnam County Courier, September 6, 1945:
Mother-Daughter Film Team Lived in Mahopac
Mrs. Lansbury and Angela, Here to Escape Bombing in Britain, Reviewed in Times Theatre Section
In the New York Times Sunday theatre page, an article “Looking into a Family Matter” telling about a mother-daughter film team, Moyna MacGill and Angela Lansbury was of interest to many Lake Mahopac residents who knew the Lansburys during their stay at the Lake.
Mrs. Lansbury (Moyna MacGill), the widow of Edgar Lansbury, British lumberman and important personage, who died in 1935, came to New York with Angela, then 14 and her twin boys, Edgar and Bruce, aged nine to escape the Nazi bombing of London in September 1940. She had previously driven an ambulance in London during the first weeks of the blitz. They were on the last of the ships permitted to leave England with evacuated children. The increase of the U-Boat peril had made it more dangerous to cross the Atlantic than to remain in Britain under the Luftwaffe bombs. After a dangerous crossing, Mrs. Lansbury was to have taken charge of ten other English children – they were to come over on a later ship, but after the increased sinkings the officials cancelled passage. When they failed to come and no funds which were to have been sent for her tutelage over the additional children she was without means of support, as regulations prevented taking her own money out of Britain. Her situation would have been desperate if the children’s American sponsors had not come to the rescue. The family lived in the C. T. Wilson home on Lake Boulevard for about a year or so. Later they removed to California where Angela made considerable progress in the movies. Her debut in “Gaslight” led to other roles, and she has appeared in “National Velvet” and the feminine lead in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Her mother is also a well known actress and played in American moving pictures. During the past winter Mrs. Mary A. McLaughlin and daughter Nora, visited the Lansburys in Hollywood (Beverly Hills.) They have taken out their first American citizenship papers.
- Angela Lansbury (left) and her mother Moyna MacGill, on the set of Kind Lady (1951), publicity still, source: Wikicommons
- Clipping of August 19, 1945 New York Times theatre page, “Looking into a Family Matter”
- Charles Boyer and Angela Lansbury in “Gaslight.” Credit: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (clipped from New York Times)
- Putnam County Courier clipping, September 16, 1943