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Women 'must sometimes take the blame' for sexual harassment, says actress Angela Lansbury

Legendary star of stage and screen, 92, qualifies controversial remark by saying there is no excuse for abuse and misconduct

Francesca Gosling
Tuesday 28 November 2017 12:53 GMT
Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Dame Angela Lansbury has told how women should not have to be prepared for the risk of sexual harassment when they make themselves “look attractive”.

While she said women “must sometimes take blame,” she said that there is no excuse for sexual misconduct.

The 92-year-old, who will soon take on the role of cantankerous Aunt March in the BBC's latest television adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, Little Women, spoke in the wake of a string of claims made about inappropriate behaviour within the Hollywood industry, following a number of serious allegations levelled against producer Harvey Weinstein.

The Academy Award nominee told the Radio Times magazine: “There are two sides to this coin... We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us - and this is where we are today.

“We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it's awful to say we can't make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.

“Should women be prepared for this? No, they shouldn't have to be! There's no excuse for that.”

She said sexually inappropriate behaviour in the workplace “will have to stop now”, adding: “I think it will stop now - it will have to. I think a lot of men must be very worried at this point.”

With an acting career of more than 70 years under her belt, Dame Angela's own private life has been a subject of scrutiny in the past, including her short marriage to Richard Cromwell in 1945.

“I had no idea that I was marrying a gay man,” she said.

“I found him such an attractive individual. He wanted to marry, he was fascinated with me, but only because of what he had seen on the screen, really.

“It didn't injure or damage me in any way, because he maintained a friendship with me and my future husband (Peter Shaw). But it was a shock to me when it ended, I wasn't prepared for that. It was just a terrible error I made as a very young woman. But I don't regret it.”

Originally of British-Irish descent, Dame Angela is now based in Los Angeles, giving her strong opinions on both Britain's decision to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

Speaking of Brexit, she said: “They should stay! By God, they should stay.”

On Mr Trump's presidency, she continued: “I am feeling the instability tremendously. I think the whole world is in absolute uproar, I really feel that. Nothing is as it was.

“I wish I could say that I was optimistic, but I'm not particularly, quite frankly.”


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