What if we told you that the incredible Angela Lansbury wasn't the first actress that Murder, She Wrote producers had in mind for the lead role? Would you think, "Oh, that's insane. No one can compare to Angela! She took the role of Jessica Fletcher and made it more than just a fictional character"?
We know it's hard to believe, but it's true. The murder mystery series producers Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, and William Link thought Jean Stapleton would be the perfect fit for the lead part. They actually developed the character with the All in the Family (1971-1979) star in mind.
However, Stapleton turned down the role. She showed a little bit of interest in the series, but eventually decided it wasn't for her. With the show now being threatened, the producers scrambled for another lead.
They knew Angela Lansbury would be great in the role but hesitated to ask because they didn't think she'd want to be in a television series. Lansbury was a multitalented actress with credits in movies and on Broadway. The producers sent her the script anyway when she became available and the actress knew with her talent, the show could become bigger than anyone had dreamed of.
Not only did Lansbury, a film and Broadway star, become a household name as millions of viewers watched her solve crimes weekly, but she also molded Jessica Fletcher into one of the greatest characters in TV history.
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