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Blue Bloods’ Len Cariou pays tribute to longtime friend Angela Lansbury

Len Cariou
Len Cariou as Henry Reagan in Blue Bloods. Pic credit: CBS

Len Cariou is paying tribute to a legendary co-star.

The actor who plays Henry Reagan on Blue Bloods spoke in loving memory of the late Angela Lansbury after the actress passed away Tuesday at the age of 96. 

Cariou and Lansbury starred together in the classic Broadway musical Sweeney Todd, which earned both of them Tony Awards. 

The pair kept up their friendship, which included Cariou guest-starring in several episodes of Lansbury’s hit TV series Murder She Wrote. 

The pair weren’t simply co-stars but also good friends who even celebrated their birthdays together.

The actor spoke warmly of his long friendship with the iconic actress, and his words add to the tributes on Lansbury and her status as a beloved face on stage and screen. 

Cariou and Lansbury’s time on Sweeney Todd

When she passed away Tuesday, just five days short of her 97th birthday, Angela Lansbury left behind an amazing career packed with achievements.

The actress began in movies in the 1940s, such as The Court Jester and The Harvey Girls. She later moved to Broadway, which included creating the title role in the hit musical Mame. 

Lansbury enjoyed a late-career revival which included voicing Mrs. Potts in the classic Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast.

Len Cariou had been a notable Broadway actor when he and Lansbury were paired in the 1979 musical Sweeney Todd; The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. Cariou played the title role of a twisted barber, with Lansbury as the demented cook Mrs. Lovett.

The Stephen Sondheim-written show was a smash hit, winning eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Both Cariou and Lansbury won Tonys for their performances. 

Speaking to ABC News, Cariou related how this forged a friendship that would last all the way to Lansbury’s death, including speaking to each other on their birthdays and the anniversary of the play’s opening night. 

“She was a great artist. I know she’s with Peter (Shaw) now, her husband, who I think she missed terribly. She said to me on her last birthday, a year ago, ‘It’s just silly being this old.'”

Cariou added how the pair had to work to get their parts right, and getting to know each other helped their roles. 

“We made it our business to get to know one another,” he said, lunching together during rehearsal so we could “establish some kind of shorthand and get to know one another better, just as people.”

Cariou and Lansbury’s reunion

Cariou and Lansbury did reunite at a 2005 Hollywood Bowl show honoring Sondheim, where they did a duet of the Sweeney Todd song A Little Priest. But that wasn’t the only on-screen connection they had.

Lansbury’s most famous role is likely Jessica Fletcher, the small-town mystery writer turned amateur sleuth in the hit CBS series Murder She Wrote. 

Cariou made seven appearances as Michael Hagerty, a former British intelligence agent who’d aid Jessica on cases. The pair also had a flirtatious banter that built off their real-life friendship. 

Speaking to WPIX News in New York, Cariou said he’d been looking at the old episodes, and “she was one of the great artists of our time, a triple threat. It was my pleasure to be a good friend of hers.”

He added how it was “awesome” to play opposite her in Sweeney Todd and shared how one night, the set nearly came down upon them in a performance, but Lansbury handled it.

Cariou summed up that Lansbury “was honest and just wanted everyone to know who she was. And everybody can relate to that and did.”

Cariou’s words are just one of the many tributes to Lansbury but show the long friendship they had that he’ll carry with him for a while.

Blue Bloods Season 13 airs Fridays at 10/9c on CBS.

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