Glynis Johns Dead at 100 Years Old

( – Glynis Johns, who portrayed Winifred Banks, the politically active mother of the Banks children in the classic musical film Mary Poppins, passed away recently of natural causes.

Johns, who was British, but was born in South Africa, lived to be a centenarian, and was 100 years old when she died. Her passing was confirmed to news outlets by her manager, Mitch Clem. She was living at an assisted-living facility at the time of her death.

Clem called Johns one of the “last of Old Hollywood.”

She was also known for her theater roles and work on Broadway, and had the distinction of being the first to sing Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” from his 1973 musical “A Little Night Music.” Sondheim wrote the song specifically for her, but the song was later popularized by Frank Sinatra. Johns, who was known for being a perfectionist in her roles, won a Tony Award that same year for her portrayal of Desiree Armfeldt in the Sondheim musical. Elizabeth Taylor would play Armfeldt in a later production of the musical. Johns did return to A Little Night Music when it was revived in 1991 in Los Angeles, but then she played Madame Armfeldt, the mother of the character she created and defined.

Looking back, Johns credited singing “Send in the Clowns” as defining moment in her career, calling it the “greatest gift I’ve ever been given in the theater.” Johns was from a musical and theater family, with her father Mervyn Johns, being a character actor while her mother was a pianist. At 12, Johns was already exposed to stage work as a dancer, and at 14, she was already an actress at London’s West End. Her breakout role came when she played the mermaid Miranda in the eponymous 1948 comedy.

Johns was married four times, but is survived by Thomas Forwood, her grandson from her lone child, the late Gareth Forwood, who passed away in 2007. She also has three great-grandchildren. Johns’ remains will be put to rest beside those of her father in England.

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