Glynis Johns as Maid Jean with the infant prince in The Court Jester(1955) {image via Paramount}

We regret to confirm the death of iconic British actress Glynis Johns. She was best known to American audience for playing Mrs. Banks in Disney’s Oscar-winning film Mary Poppins.

Glynis Johns was born October 5, 1923 in Pretoria, South Africa, which at the time was a dominion of the British Empire. Her parents were performers on tour in South Africa at the time. Her mother was a musician and her father was an actor. Glynis Johns’ ethnic roots were Welsh. She grew up in England. She died in Los Angeles, CA at the age of 100.

Glynis Johns for Disney

Glynis Johns was already a respected actress in the UK when Walt Disney cast her in three of his movies. In 1953 she played Henry VIII’s sister Princess Mary Tudor in The Sword and the Rose and Helen Mary MacPherson in Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue. In 1964 Disney cast her again in Mary Poppins as Winifred Banks, the suffragette mother of Jane and Michael. She was made a Disney Legend in 2019.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Roles

One of Glynis Johns’ first major roles was as Miranda the mermaid in Miranda (1948). She reprised the role in the sequel, Mad About Men in 1954. Of course she was the unforgettable Mrs. Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins. Glynis Johns starred as Jane Lindstrom in the horror film The Cabinet of Caligari (1962). She was special guest villainess Lady Penelope Peasoup in Batman in 1967. In 1973 Ms. Johns appeared in The Vault of Horror. She had a minor, uncredited role in The Thief of Bagdad (1940), and she voiced Mrs. Grimwood in Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988).

She also co-starred with Danny Kaye in the classic comedy The Court Jester (1955) as Maid Jean, a captain in the Black Fox’s brave band of rebels. The Court Jester (1955) is technically a fantasy film, because of the spells and potions of Griselda, the witch who is Princess Gwendolyn’s lady-in-waiting, and is one of the best loved fantasy films of all time.


Ms. Johns was nominated for an Oscar in 1961 for her performance in The Sundowners (1960) In 1965 she won the Golden Laurel Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mary Poppins. She was nominated for a Golen Globe Award in 1963 for The Chapman Report (1962), and she won a Tony Award for playing Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music on Broadway.

Hear Glynis Johns sing two of her most famous songs

Please turn down yoour for just a few moments, so you can hear the late Glynis Johns sing two of her most famous songs. These are the ones we remember her for the most.

Composer Stephen Sondheim wrote the song “Send in the Clowns” specifically for her. Of the song, she said “‘Send In The Clowns’ was the best gift I was ever given,” Unfortunately, when A Little Night Music was filmed in 1977, she lost the part of Desiree Armfeldt to fellow superstar Elizabeth Taylor.

Glynis Johns’ Personal Life

Glynis Johns was married four times and divorced four times. She had one son, actor Gareth Forwood, by her first husband, actor Anthony Forwood (Will Scarlet in the live-action Disney film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)). Gareth predeceased her in 2007. Her second husband was WWII Navy pilot David Foster, who later became president of Colgate-Palmolive. Her third husband was businessman Cecil Henderson. American writer Elliott Arnold was her fourth husband. All four of her ex-husbands predeceased her. Her father, actor Mervyn Johns, played Bob Crachit to Alistair Sim’s Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1951). In 1963, she starred in a short-lived American TV show, Glynis, where she played a mystery novelist who helped her attorney husband solve real crimes.

Her first film was South Riding (1938). Her final role was as Grandma in Superstar (1999). Glynis Johns may be gone, but her films will be watched by fans and studied by drama students for years to come.

Her manager, Mitch Clem “said, “today is a sombre (sic) day for Hollywood. Not only do we mourn the passing of our dear Glynis, but we mourn the end of the golden age of Hollywood.” He added her “light shined very brightly for 100 years. Glynis powered her way through life with intelligence, wit, and a love for performance, affecting millions of lives.”

Our comfort and condolences to her family and friends, especially her grandson Thomas Forword.

Glynis Johns will always and ever be our Mrs. Banks. Thank you for a lifetime of magic and memories.


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.