In a 2014 interview with the Daily Mail, Lansbury, who died Tuesday at age 96, said “it pains me to say” that Deidre, now 69, “was one of many youngsters who knew” the infamous cult leader in the 1960s — “and they were fascinated.”
“He was an extraordinary character, charismatic in many ways, no question about it,” Lansbury said of Manson at the time.
She also revealed that Deidre and her older brother Anthony Shaw, now 70, were into the drug scene at the time, noting that “it started with cannabis but moved on to heroin.”
“There were factions up in the hills above Malibu that were dedicated to deadly pursuits,” Lansbury said, before going into the details about Deidre’s association with Manson’s crowd.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty Angela Lansbury and daughter Deidre in 2000
As a result, Lansbury said, she told husband Peter Shaw that they had “to leave” California — at which point they “upped sticks and moved the family to a house I found in County Cork.”
“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,” said the actress, who was born in London. “I refused all work for a year and simply kept house. I bought Elizabeth David’s books and learned how to cook properly. It was a wonderful time in my life.”
Lansbury also told the Daily Mail that after the family’s relocation overseas, “Anthony pulled right out of his bad habits quite quickly.”
And while “it took Deidre a little longer,” her daughter “finally got married and she and her husband now live in Los Angeles, where they run their own Italian restaurant,” Lansbury said at the time.
The award-winning film, television and Broadway actress said she and husband Peter, who died in 2003 after 53 years of marriage, “had no idea what had been going on,” and that looking back at the time before their move “fills me with dread.”
“But then we had no experience of drugs. We didn’t know the significance of finding a pipe in a drawer. Why would we?” she told the Daily Mail. “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.”
Eventually, they “found a doctor who prescribed methadone, a heroin substitute, which helped with the withdrawal symptoms as Anthony and Deidre were weaned off hard drugs,” Lansbury recalled. “We were so very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time.”
“I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two [children] if they hadn’t been removed to a completely different milieu, the simplicity of life in Ireland,” the Murder, She Wrote actress said.