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How Angela Lansbury Saved Her Daughter From Charles Manson

"She was one of many youngsters who knew him—and they were fascinated," the late actor said.

In light of Angela Lansbury's on Oct. 11 at the age of 96, memories and stories about the legendary actor have been spreading online. Fans are remembering her roles and her influence on the entertainment world, but that's not all there was to the star's life. There's one story that resurfaced about Lansbury's family that is particularly surprising. In the 1960s, Lansbury saved her daughter, Deidre Shaw, from Charles Manson, after she started hanging around him and his followers.

Lansbury told the story herself in a 2014 interview with the Daily Mail. Read on to see what she had to say about Shaw's association with Manson and why it worried her so much.

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Lansbury and her family were living in Malibu.

Peter Shaw and Angela Lansbury with their baby son Anthony in 1952
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the 1950s, Lansbury welcomed two children, Deidre and Anthony Shaw, with her husband, Peter Shaw. As Lansbury explained to the Daily Mail, the family lived in Malibu, California.

"My career was important to me but our children, Anthony and Deidre, always came first," she said, before adding, "'Well, I say that but I might be shooting a film in Paris for 12 weeks while Peter held the fort back in Malibu. And that was less than ideal. But in those days all women who could afford it had somebody to help take care of their children. As soon as I had the babies I went on a diet and I was back in business. I do regret that. It was a big mistake. You have to be with your children."

Deidre became involved with Manson.

Deidre Shaw and Angela Lansbury at the 1979 Tony Awards Supper Ball
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lansbury explained that both Deidre and Anthony started doing drugs as teenagers. "'It started with cannabis but moved on to heroin," she told the Daily Mail. Deidre was also hanging around with Manson and his followers.

"There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits," the Manchurian Candidate star said. "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."

Manson was using her for her family's money.

Charles Manson and police officers in a court room in 1970
Bettmann / Getty Images

Manson biographer Jeff Guinn spoke to People in 2017 about the cult leader's connection to Hollywood stars and their children. He said that Deidre "never formally joined" the Manson Family, but that she "was one of a number of impressionable young people who had her parents' credit cards, and what they would do is they would pick up these kids after school and then they would head off [to shop]." According to Guinn, Deidre's connection to the group ended when her credit card was cut off, long before the 1969 murder spree his followers carried out for him.

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Lansbury knew she had to do something.

Angela Lansbury and Deidre Shaw at a 1979 Tony Awards Party
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lansbury realized that she had to do something to change the path her children were on. So, the family moved very far away: to Ireland.

"I said to Peter, 'We have to leave.' So 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."

Lansbury took time off of work to be around her kids in their new home. "I refused all work for a year and simply kept house. I bought [cookbook author] Elizabeth David's books and learnt how to cook properly. It was a wonderful time in my life."

Her plan worked.

Deidre Shaw and Angela Lansbury at the Golden Apple Awards in 2000
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lansbury said that moving to Ireland helped her children to straighten up their lives.

"Anthony pulled right out of his bad habits quite quickly," she shared. "It took Deidre a little longer but she finally got married and she and her husband now live in Los Angeles, where they run their own Italian restaurant."

Today, Deidre is 69, and Anthony is 70. Anthony is a retired TV director, who primarily worked on his mother's show, Murder, She Wrote.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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