Throaty-voiced, kittenish leading lady Glynis Johns was the daughter of British stage actor Mervyn Johns; she was born while her father and concert-pianist mother were on a tour of South Africa. Enrolled in the London ballet school at age 6, Johns had by age 10 progressed to the point that she was certified to teach ballet. At 12, she made her stage debut in the role of Napoleon's daughter in Saint Helena; at 13, she was cast in the pivotal role of the spiteful schoolgirl in the London production of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour. This led to her first film, 1937's South Riding, in which she played another petulant, foot-stamping adolescent. Johns graduated to coquettish leading roles in the 1940s, most famously as the alluring mermaid in Miranda (1946). Her best-known Hollywood assignments include the roles of Maid Jean in Danny Kaye's The Court Jester (1956) and the suffragette Mrs. Banks in Disney's Mary Poppins (1964) (Johns was the only cast member to have the foresight to demand a portion of the royalties for the Poppins soundtrack record). In 1963, she starred in Glynis, a lukewarm TV comedy/mystery series. Eight years later, she won a Tony award for her performance in Broadway's A Little Night Music. Still active into the 1990s, Glynis Johns was recently seen as a belligerent in-law in The Ref (1994) and as a deliciously dotty aunt in While You Were Sleeping (1995).
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Was born in South Africa while her parents were on tour; her father was actor Mervyn Johns and her mother was a concert pianist.
- Was a certified ballet instructor by age 10.
- Began performing on stage at the age of 12.
- Made her screen debut at age 14 in South Riding in 1938.
- Made her Broadway debut in 1952 in Gertie.