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Beloved ‘Mary Poppins’ Actress Glynis Johns Passes Away at the Age of 100

Glynis Johns
Glynis Johns (Credits: CBS)

Glynis Johns, renowned for portraying Mrs. Winifred Banks in the timeless film “Mary Poppins,” has passed away at the age of 100. According to her manager, Mitch Clem, she died on Thursday of natural causes at an assisted living home in Los Angeles, marking the end of an era in Hollywood.

Described as the last representative of old Hollywood, Johns enjoyed a career spanning over 80 years in movies, television, and theater. Notably, she originated the role of Desiree Armfelt in Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical “A Little Night Music,” earning a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award in 1973. Sondheim tailored the hit song “Send in the Clowns” to showcase her distinctive husky voice.

Glynis Johns

Glynis Johns (Credits: PEOPLE Magazine)

Although she lost the part in the 1977 film adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor, the song became one of Sondheim’s most iconic works, performed by artists like Frank Sinatra, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, and Olivia Newton-John. In 2023, Elijah Wood even sang “Send in the Clowns” during season 2 of “Yellowjackets.”

Johns’ extensive filmography included over 60 movies, with her breakthrough role as the amorous mermaid in the 1948 comedy “Miranda.” She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1960 comedy-drama “The Sundowners” and a Golden Globe Award nomination for “The Chapman Report” in 1963.

In 1964, Johns starred in Walt Disney’s musical adaptation of P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” playing Winifred Banks. The character, a suffragette, opened the Academy Award-winning film with the memorable solo number “Sister Suffragette.” Johns’ final film credits included roles in “The Ref” (1994), “While You Were Sleeping” (1995), and “Superstar” (1999).

Beyond film, Johns graced television series such as “The Frank Sinatra Show,” “Batman,” “Cheers,” “The Love Boat,” “Murder She Wrote,” and “Coming of Age.” She even had her own TV sitcom in 1963, titled “Glynis.”

Born into an English theatrical family in Pretoria, South Africa, Johns became a dancer at 12 and an actor at 14 in London’s West End. Married four times, she had one child, Gareth Forwood, with her first husband, Anthony Forwood. Despite occasional retirements, Johns acknowledged the theater as an integral part of her life, stating, “The theater is just part of my life. It probably uses my highest sense of intelligence, so I have to come back to it to realize that I’ve got the talent. I’m not as good doing anything else.”

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