The late Angela Lansbury — who died in the early hours of Tuesday at her Los Angeles home just days shy of her 97th birthday — once had to pry her daughter from the clutches of convicted murder Charles Manson.
In a 2014 interview with DailyMail.com, Lansbury revealed that Diedre, now 69, had begun running with a crowd led by the musician-turned-mass murderer during the 1960s.
In order to keep her daughter and the rest of her family safe, the Murder, She Wrote actress moved her whole family from their home in Los Angeles to Ireland, where her mother’s family hailed from.
Angela Lansbury revealed to DailyMail.com in 2014 that her daughter Diedre (pictured; now 69) was briefly swept up in Charles Manson’s circle in the 1960s; Lansbury and Diedre seen in 2000 in Beverly Hills
Getting out of town: In order to keep her family safe from Manson and drugs, the Murder, She Wrote actress moved her whole family from their home in Los Angeles to Ireland; Manson pictured in 1969 as he is escorted to his arraignment
Lansbury said the troubles with Diedre and her older son Anthony, now 70, began in the 1960s when they fell under the sway of drugs.
‘It started with cannabis but moved on to heroin,’ the Sweeney Todd star explained.
Their drug use brought her children, who were just teens at the time, into unsavory circles.
‘There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits,’ she continued. ‘It pains me to say it but, at one stage, Deidre was in with a crowd led by Charles Manson.’
Like some of Manson’s followers, who would later commit the horrendous Tate–LaBianca murders, Diedre was allegedly drawn to the cult leaders charms.
‘She was one of many youngsters who knew him — and they were fascinated,’ Lansbury continued. ‘He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it.’
Bad influence: Lansbury said Diedre (pictured) and her son Anthony began using heavy drugs in the ’60s, and Diedre became ‘fascinated’ with Manson; Angela and Diedre seen in 1989 in LA
Chilling: ‘He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it’; Manson is pictured in his 1969 mugshot
Fearing the kind of trouble her daughter might get into if she stayed in Manson’s circle, Lansbury proposed a major move overseas.
”I said to [husband] Peter [Shaw], “We have to leave.” So we upped sticks and moved the family to a house I found in County Cork,’ she said, explaining that it was a sort of homecoming, even though she had been born in London.
‘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,’ Lansbury continued. ‘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. I bought Elizabeth David’s books and learnt how to cook properly,’ she added, referencing the popular British cooking writer. ‘It was a wonderful time in my life.’
A change of scenery proved to be just the prescription for her children, who thrived in Ireland.
‘Anthony pulled right out of his bad habits quite quickly,’ Lansbury 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.’
Time for a change: ‘I said to [husband] Peter [Shaw], “We have to leave.” So we upped sticks and moved the family to a house I found in County Cork,’ she said; Lansbury seen with husband Peter Shaw and son Anthony in 1979 in NYC
Anthony would later follow his mother’s footsteps in the entertainment industry, and the two even collaborated when he directed 68 episodes of her series Murder, She Wrote.
Even though everything worked out with her family, the thought of what could have happened to her children still frightened Lansbury decades later.
‘It fills me with dread. Peter and I had no idea what had been going on,’ she admitted. ‘But then we had no experience of drugs. We didn’t know the significance of finding a pipe in a drawer. Why would we? And when we did, we didn’t know how to help them. Nor were there any experts back then who could offer advice to the parents of kids from good families who were using, and sometimes overdosing on, drugs. It was like an epidemic.’
‘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,’ she added.
‘In the end we found a doctor who prescribed methadone, a heroin substitute, which helped with the withdrawal symptoms as Anthony and Deidre were weaned off hard drugs. We were so very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time.’
Safe haven: ‘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,’ she added; Lansbury seen with Diedre and Anthony in 1957
Manson was eventually was convicted 1971 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for seven murders committed by his followers in 1969.
Although he is not believed to have explicitly ordered the killings, his behavior and teachings convinced a jury that he was responsible for the murders.
On the night of August 8–9, Manson’s followers murdered the pregnant actress Sharon Tate (who was the wife of director Roman Polanski), along with her friend Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger of the Folger family, the Polish writer and director Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent. On August 10, Manson’s followers broke into the home of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary and brutally murdered the two.
Manson died in prison in 2017 at age 83.
Diedre’s connection to Manson doesn’t appear to have been close enough for him to involve her in the cult’s 1969 murders, as Lansbury told RadioTimes in 2017 that the family moved after their house burned down in 1970.
She said both Anthony and Diedre had to learn to cook and garden to stay self-sufficient in their new Irish home.
In Jeff Guinn’s 2014 book Manson: The Life And Times Of Charles Manson, he noted that Diedre never moved in full-time with Manson’s cult, but she was still useful to him, as he and other Manson family members would ‘go stock up on clothes or car parts without a concern for cost, because Didi paid for everything with her mother’s credit cards.’
However, they were eventually canceled, and she reportedly withdrew from Manson’s circle.
Behind bars: Manson was convicted in 1971 of leading his followers to kill seven people in 1969, including the pregnant actress Sharon Tate. He died in prison in 2017; seen in 1970