Glynis Johns, ‘Mary Poppins’ actor, dead at 100

Glynis Johns, the Oscar-nominated and Tony-winning actor, dancer and singer who notably played Mrs. Banks in Disney's 1964 musical “Mary Poppins,” died Thursday in Los Angeles, his manager confirmed to Times. She was 100 years old.

“My heart is heavy today with the passing of my beloved client Glynis Johns,” Mitch Clem, Johns’ manager for 25 years, wrote Thursday. Facebook. “Glynis navigated his way through life with intelligence, wit and a love of performance, affecting millions of lives. …Its light shone very brightly for 100 years. She had a mind that could stop you in your tracks, fueled by a heart that loved deeply and purely. Today is a dark day for Hollywood. Not only do we mourn the passing of our beloved Glynis, but we mourn the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Known for her raspy yet throaty voice, Johns has graced both the big screen and the Broadway stage for more than six decades. She won a Tony Award for Actress in a Musical when she originated the role of Desiree Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim's “A Little Night Music” in 1973. In the musical, Johns performed the now-classic song by Broadway “Send in the Clowns.”

In a 2003 New York Times interview, the legendary Broadway composer and lyricist said he created “Send in the Clowns” especially for Johns.

“Glynis had a beautiful, crystal-clear voice, but sustaining notes wasn’t his thing,” Sondheim said. “I wanted to write short sentences, so I wrote a song full of questions.”

In 1964, Johns starred as the dim-witted and jovial Winifred Banks in Disney's “Mary Poppins,” alongside Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Playing the role of a vociferous ally of the early 20th century women's movement, Johns got a breakout song in the classic film with the song “Sister Suffragette.”

Born Glynis Margaret Payne Johns in 1923 in what is now South Africa to British parents, Johns made her debut in show business as a dancer at the age of 5. She was considered a child dance prodigy and by At age 10, I graduated start teaching dance. She finally started acting at age 12, a choice she said was made by her parents.

“These were situations that were difficult for parents to refuse,” Johns told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “It's hard to turn down a chance to play with Laurence Olivier, to say, 'No, she has to go to school.' They had an important decision to make; I don't know if I would have done better than them.

In this interview, she also said that she wanted to explore other careers. “When I was young, I was interested in everything,” Johns said wistfully. “I wanted to be a scientist. I would have loved to continue on and on at university. But you can't do everything in life. And I had no choice at that point.

The British actress worked regularly on the London stage until late 1938, when she landed her first film role in the drama “South Riding”, starring the famous English actor Ralph Richardson.

In 1963, Johns starred in the television comedy series “Glynis,” in which she played an easily distracted mystery writer who attempts to solve real-life mysteries alongside her lawyer husband.

Johns received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actress in the 1960s comedy-drama “The Sundowners.”

Throughout her career, Johns appeared in over 50 films and starred in over 30 television series.

She is survived by her grandson Thomas and her three great-grandchildren. Johns will be buried next to his father in the UK

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