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Angela Lansbury's devastation after being abandoned by gay husband

Angela Lansbury's first marriage lasted less than a year credit:Bang Showbiz
Angela Lansbury's first marriage lasted less than a year credit:Bang Showbiz

Angela Lansbury was left distraught after her first husband walked out on her and she later found out he was gay.

The 'Murder, She Wrote' star tied the knot with fellow actor Richard Cromwell when she was just 19 and he was 35, but the marriage last less than a year as he left her with no warning and just a brief note as an explanation which read "Sorry. I can't go on".

She told Terry Gross' Fresh Air radio show: "I had known so many gay people in Hollywood. It just had never really sunk in ... I was in love with love. And I just - it was a shock, but it wasn't a shock because I was so in love with Richard Cromwell when I married him that I was just - you know, I'd never had any kind of experience ... I had nothing to draw on to know ... I had had no experience sexually ... "

However, Angela insisted she never blamed Richard and they remained good friends up until his death from liver cancer in 1960.

She added: "When it turned out that he was (gay), I never blamed him for it in any way. And I realised that I had just made an excruciating error, you know, an emotional error ... But I don't regret it because I learned so much during ... the short time that we were together ..."

The actress credited her first husband with introducing her to some of Hollywood's elite, including his good friend Joan Crawford, and she is thankful to have had that experience.

She told the Daily Mail: "I may have been mature in some ways but I was also a greenhorn, as they say. He was such an attractive man, so full of fun. He knew all the old movie stars; he was a great friend of Joan Crawford, for instance. He showed me a world full of colours I'd never seen. So why he wanted to marry me, I'll never know."

After divorcing Richard in 1946, she went on to marry Peter Shaw in 1949. They became parents to two children and remained together until his death in 2013.