Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seven Things to Know About Glynis Johns

1. Stephen Sondheim wrote "Send in the Clowns" specifically for Glynis Johns, whose husky voice worked best with short phrasing. She sang it in the original 1973 stage production of  A Little Night Music and won a Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

2. Glynis Johns received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Sundowners (1960), Fred Zinneman's saga of an Australian family. She lost the Oscar to Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry. Deborah Kerr was also nominated, as Best Actress, for The Sundowners; Kerr and Johns appeared together 15 years earlier opposite Robert Donat in Perfect Strangers (aka Vacation from Marriage).

Johns and Danny Kaye--in disguise--in
The Court Jester.
3. She once said: "I would sooner play in a good British picture than in the majority of American pictures I have seen." Ironically, it was an American picture--the 1955 comedy classic The Court Jester--that provided her with one of her most fondly-remembered roles.

4. In 1963, she starred as an author who dabbled in crime-solving in her own American sitcom Glynis. The series was created by Jess Oppenheimer, one of the masterminds behind I Love Lucy, and was produced by Desilu. Keith Andes played Glynis' husband. Alas, the series was cancelled after 13 episodes--though a similar premise worked quite well years later for Johns' Court Jester co-star Angela Lansbury. Interestingly, Johns guest-starred in a 1985 episode of Muder, She Wrote called "Sing a Song of Murder."

As Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins.
5. Glynis Johns and Angela Lansbury share two other connections. Lansbury was also Tony-nominated for A Little Night Music. She appeared in a 2009 Broadway revival, playing the mother of Johns' character. Johns and Lansbury also appeared in Disney musicals about magical child caregivers. Glynis Johns portrayed Mrs. Banks opposite Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins  (1964), while Angela Lansbury starred as an apprentice witch in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).

Rudy Vallee and Glynis Johns.
6. Johns played villain Lady Penelope Peasoup on the Batman TV series. She teamed up with Rudy Vallee, who portrayed Lord Marmaduke Ffogg.

7. She played a flirtatious mermaid curious about humans in Miranda (1948) and its belated 1954 sequel Mad About Men. The first film was one of the biggest British boxoffice hits of the year. In the second film, Glynis Johns played double roles: Caroline, a school teacher who takes a vacation in Cornwall, and Miranda, a mermaid and distant relative to Caroline.


  1. Mr Banks is, hands down, my favourite Glynis Johns role - although I must admit I haven't seen The Sundowners. I'm sure that will far surpass my Mary Poppins nostalgia!

  2. Rick, some great information about this wonderful actress, who was not only beautiful but also projected a distinctive personality. Glad you mentioned the unique timbre of her voice. I remember the TV series, which I recall as having a rather dark slant for a mystery show of the time. I know you read my capsule review on my Facebook page about her film "The Cabinet of Caligari" (1962), but I think it's worth mentioning here for those who are fans of Ms. Johns. As I'm sure you know, her father was the British character actor Mervyn Johns ("Dead of Night"), with whom she appeared in several films, including "The Sundowners."

  3. Love Glynis! These are all good things to know about her. She's very cute in MIRANDA and THE COURT JESTER.

  4. Thank you for this post! I know her mainly from The Court Jester, so lots of fun to learn more!

  5. I just love the film "Papa's Delicate Condition" (1963), based on the memoirs of silent screen star Corrine Griffith. In it, Jackie Gleason was Papa and Glynis played his much-put upon wife (Charlie Ruggles portrayed her father). Lovely actress with a most fascinating voice. Enjoyed learning seven things about her I didn't know, Rick.

  6. "The Sundowners" is a wonderful movie all around, but it is a particular treat to see Glynis acting opposite her father, Mervyn Johns.

    Such a delightful actress.

  7. I think Glynis Johns is quite a memorable actress. I especially enjoyed her work in "No Highway in the Sky" with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. But I think she is wonderful with Danny Kaye in "The Court Jester". Thanks for paying tribute to this lovely lady with the unforgettable voice and flashing eyes. Well done, Rick!

  8. What a bewitching actress she is. Seemingly like most I first became familiar with her from The Court Jester and Mary Poppins but since then have seen many more of her films.

    She's very saucy in the actress fest The Chapman Report, amusingly sensible as the houseboat living wife of Jimmy Stewart in Dear Brigitte, enchanting in both Miranda and Mad About Men, gives a complex performance of a woman consumed by fears in the Gigolo and Gigolette segment of Encore and touching as the doomed mother in the involving but terribly sad All Mine to Give.

    There are many others worth catching, including her late career scene-stealing Elsie in While You Were Sleeping, but no matter the part she always makes it better with her special persona.

  9. What a great actress, and beautiful too! I simply love Mary Poppins. It never fails to cheer me up when I'm down. No more actresses in her league today.

  10. I'm also a fan. Her greatest role for me is opposite Alec Guinness and Petula Clark in "The Card." Thanks for the other recommendations here. I just watched "The Sundowners" in celebration of Johns's 100th birthday. It's an epic film about Australian sheep drivers and shearers with a great cast: Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, and Dina Merrill.