Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Glynis Johns, ‘Mary Poppins’ Actress, Dies at 100

Glynis Johns, ‘Mary Poppins’ Actress, Dies at 100

Glynis Johns, who captured many hearts with her performance as Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, died on Thursday in Los Angeles at 100 years old. Johns was known for her stage work, too. She introduced the song Send in the Clowns from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in 1973. Johns won a Tony Award for her performance.

Johns built up quite a reputation as a stage and TV actress before Mary Poppins came around. As the story goes, Johns believed that she was getting the lead role in the movie. It, of course, went to Julie Andrews. Johns was so distraught that Walt Disney ordered that a song be written for her character.

Mrs. Banks became a suffragette, which led to her performing Sister Suffragette in the movie, Variety reports.

Besides her work in English films, Johns had numerous appearances in the American movie and TV scene. Johns played Kevin Spacey’s mother in a 1994 film titled The Ref. About her performance, critic James Berardinelli wrote, “Glynis Johns is also excellent as Spacey’s mother. She takes command of her scenes even when star Dennis Leary can’t.

Other movies she recently appeared in include While You Were Sleeping in 1995, and Superstar alongside Molly Shannon in 1999.

Glynis Johns Earned Oscar Nomination For 1960 Film

Johns earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1960’s The Sundowners opposite Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

She made her film debut in 1938. Ten years later, Johns had a hit with a role as a mermaid in Miranda. Then, she starred in a sequel titled Mad About Men in 1954. Ironically, one of her costars in Miranda was David Tomlinson. He would later go on to play Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins.

She made her London stage debut in 1935. In 1943, she starred in Peter Pan. Johns hit the Broadway footlights in 1952 in Gertie. In 1956, she came back to star in Major Barbara, which was directed by Charles Laughton.

TV work popped up for Johns in the 1960s, but she started guest-starring on shows back in 1952. She and James Coburn teamed up for a show titled Safari, a take on The African Queen, for NBC. In 1963, Johns had her sitcom titled Glynis on CBS. After Mary Poppins became a big hit, CBS reran the sitcom shows.

Fans of the 1960s show Batman will remember Johns for her turn as Lady Penelope Peasoup. Other TV work included an appearance on Murder, She Wrote. And she had another memorable performance on the NBC sitcom Cheers.

Johns was married four times and is survived by a son, Gareth.