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Glynis Johns

Glynis Johns

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: October 5, 1923 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Pretoria, , ZA Profession: actor, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Fondly remembered for the breathy quality of her husky voice and her eternally upbeat persona, British actress Glynis Johns delivered a myriad of memorable roles in a varied career that spanned over 60 years. Born into a theatrical family, Johns began performing on the stage by the age of 12 and in film while still in her teens. Early films roles included her starring turn as a flirtatious mermaid in the popular fantasy-comedy "Miranda" (1948), the thriller "State Secret" (1950) and the "Miranda" sequel "Mad About Men" (1954). Following a well-regarded run on Broadway in a revival of "Major Barbara" in 1956 and a disappointing outing as the star of her own television sitcom, "Glynis" (CBS, 1963), the actress appeared in one of the most popular family musicals in film history, "Mary Poppins" (1964), as the well-intentioned suffragette, Winifred Banks. Even more memorable was her lengthy performance as Desiree Armfeldt in the 1973 premiere of the Wheeler-Sondheim musical comedy "A Little Night Music," in which she immortalized the heart-breaking ballad "Send in the Clowns." In the years after her Tony Award-winning tour with the show, Johns went on to dozens of endearing roles in films like "While You...

Fondly remembered for the breathy quality of her husky voice and her eternally upbeat persona, British actress Glynis Johns delivered a myriad of memorable roles in a varied career that spanned over 60 years. Born into a theatrical family, Johns began performing on the stage by the age of 12 and in film while still in her teens. Early films roles included her starring turn as a flirtatious mermaid in the popular fantasy-comedy "Miranda" (1948), the thriller "State Secret" (1950) and the "Miranda" sequel "Mad About Men" (1954). Following a well-regarded run on Broadway in a revival of "Major Barbara" in 1956 and a disappointing outing as the star of her own television sitcom, "Glynis" (CBS, 1963), the actress appeared in one of the most popular family musicals in film history, "Mary Poppins" (1964), as the well-intentioned suffragette, Winifred Banks. Even more memorable was her lengthy performance as Desiree Armfeldt in the 1973 premiere of the Wheeler-Sondheim musical comedy "A Little Night Music," in which she immortalized the heart-breaking ballad "Send in the Clowns." In the years after her Tony Award-winning tour with the show, Johns went on to dozens of endearing roles in films like "While You Were Sleeping" (1995) well into the late-1990s. Whether portraying a sultry sea creature, a neglectful mother or a delightfully eccentric grandmother, Johns was never anything less than an absolute joy onscreen.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Superstar (1999) Grandma
2.
 While You Were Sleeping (1995) Elsie
3.
 Secret Garden, The (1994) Voice Of Darjeeling
4.
 Ref, The (1994) Rose
5.
 Zelly And Me (1988) Coco
6.
 Nukie (1988) Sister Anne
7.
 Spraggue (1984) Aunt Mary
8.
 Vault Of Horror, The (1973) Eleanor ("The Neat Job")
9.
 Under Milk Wood (1971) Myfanwy Price
10.
 Lock Up Your Daughters (1969) Mrs. Squeezum
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1923:
Born in South Africa and carried onstage by her violinist-impresario grandmother while the family's performing company was touring there
1935:
London stage debut, as Ursula in "Buckie's Bears"
1938:
Made feature film debut in the Victor Saville directed drama "South Riding"
1943:
Starred on the London stage at age 19 in the title role of "Peter Pan"
1947:
Delivered warm turn as the sister-in-law of German war bride "Frieda," adapted from the stage play
1948:
Scored a hit as a mermaid in "Miranda," adapted by playwright Peter Blackmore from his stage play; initial screen work with David Tomlinson
1951:
First film with father Mervyn Johns, "The Magic Box"; Tomlinson was also in the cast
1952:
Broadway debut in title role of "Gertie"
1954:
Reprised her mermaid role for the "Miranda" sequel "Mad About Men"
1956:
Returned to Broadway in title role of "Major Barbara," directed by Charles Laughton
1960:
Received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role as a hotelkeeper in "The Sundowners"; second film with her father
1962:
Acted opposite James Coburn in NBC adventure pilot "Safari," based on "The African Queen"
1963:
Starred as Glynis Granville on the CBS sitcom "Glynis"; network aired reruns during the summer of 1965
1964:
Played nutty suffragette wife of Tomlinson in "Mary Poppins"
1965:
Offered a standout turn as James Stewart's practical wife in "Dear Brigette"
1967:
Portrayed villainess Lady Penelope Peasoup on three episodes of the campy series "Batman" (ABC)
1968:
Had brief bit as screwball author in "Don't Just Stand There"
1971:
Joined the likes of Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole in film version of Dylan Thomas' "Under Milkwood"
1973:
Had a major hit on Broadway in the leading role of Desiree Armfeldt in the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical, "A Little Night Music"; introduced the contemporary standard "Send in the Clowns"; received a Tony Award for her performance
1982:
U.S. TV miniseries debut, "Little Gloria...Happy at Last" (NBC)
1983:
Appeared as the mother of Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) on an episode of the NBC sitcom "Cheers"
1988:
Played featured role of Trudie Pepper on the CBS sitcom "Coming of Age"
:
Returned to Broadway in a revival of the Somerset Maugham play "The Circle," starring opposite Rex Harrison and Stewart Granger
1991:
In Los Angeles revival of "A Little Night Music," undertook role of Madame Armfeldt (originated by Hermione Gingold), the mother of the character she created in the original; Lee Remick was to have played Desiree but withdrew because of illness and was replaced by Lois Nettleton
1994:
Essayed the 'Mom from Hell' in Ted Demme's "The Ref," starring Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary
1995:
Portrayed Peter Gallagher's grandmother in the romantic comedy "While You Were Sleeping," starring Sandra Bullock
1998:
Starred in Horton Foote's play "A Coffin in Egypt" as a 90-year-old grand dame reminiscing about her life on and off a Texas ranch
1999:
Played grandmother to Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) in "Superstar"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hampstead School: -

Notes

On her star-making turn as a mermaid in "Miranda": "I was quite an athlete, my muscles were strong from dancing, so the tail was just fine. I swam like a porpoise."

As for her taking on the role of Madame Armfeldt for the 1991 revival of "A Little Night Music" after having played her daughter 18 years before: "To tell you the truth, I hadn't liked that part (originally Hermione Gingold's), and I wasn't sure if I could listen to someone else singing 'Send in the Clowns', the song Stephen Sondheim wrote for me." --Glynis Johns quoted in the Daily News, June 14, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Anthony Forwood. Manager, former actor. Divorced; father of Johns' son Gareth; later had long relationship with actor Dirk Bogarde.
companion:
Antony Darnborough. Producer. Born on October 16, 1913; became engaged in 1951; produced "Encore" (1951) in which Johns starred; separated; died on September 24, 2000.
husband:
David Ramsey Foster. Was WWII hero; married on February 1, 1952; divorced.
husband:
Cecil Peter L Henderson. Married in 1960; divorced c. 1961.
husband:
Elliot Arnold. Writer. Married on October 4, 1964.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Mervyn Johns. Actor. Born in 1899; died in 1992; acted together in "The Magic Box" (1951) and "The Sundowners" (1960).
mother:
Alys Maude Johns. Concert pianist.
son:
Gareth Forwood. Actor. Father, Anthony Forwood.

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