Veteran actress Angela Lansbury is convinced both her children would have died from drug overdoses if the family had not fled California for Ireland in the 1970s.

The Murder, She Wrote star is mother to Anthony, 62, and Deirdre, 60, and both her offspring fell into drug use when they were caught up in the 'counterculture' movement of the 1960s.

By the end of the decade, Anthony was hooked on heroin and cocaine and Deirdre had become close to the controversial Manson Family cult, and in a desperate bid to rescue their family from the brink of oblivion, Lansbury and her husband Peter Shaw moved to County Cork in Ireland.

The actress is convinced the relocation helped to save the lives of both her children, telling Britain's Daily Mail, "It fills me with dread. Peter and I had no idea what had been going on. But then we had no experience of drugs. We didn't know the significance of finding a pipe in a drawer. Why would we? 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. Certainly, I have no doubt we would have lost one or both of our two if they hadn't been removed to a completely different milieu, the simplicity of life in Ireland. In the end we found a doctor who prescribed methadone, a heroin substitute, which helped with the withdrawal symptoms as Anthony and Deirdre were weaned off hard drugs. We were very, very lucky we spotted what was happening just in time."