Glynis Johns, a Tony Award-winning stage and screen star who played the mother opposite Julie Andrews in the classic movie Mary Poppins and introduced the world to the bittersweet standard-to-be Send in the Clowns by Stephen Sondheim, has died. She was 100.
Mitch Clem, her manager, said she died on Thursday (local time) at an assisted living home in Los Angeles of natural causes.
Johns was known to be a perfectionist about her profession — precise, analytical and opinionated. The roles she took had to be multi-faceted. Anything less was giving less than her all.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m not interested in playing the role on only one level,” she said. “The whole point of first-class acting is to make a reality of it. To be real. And I have to make sense of it in my own mind in order to be real.”
Johns’ greatest triumph was playing Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, for which she won a Tony in 1973. Sondheim wrote the show’s hit song Send in the Clowns to suit her distinctive husky voice, but she lost the part in the 1977 film version to Elizabeth Taylor.
“I’ve had other songs written for me, but nothing like that,” Johns told the AP in 1990. “It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given in the theatre.”
Others who followed Johns in singing Sondheim’s most popular song include Frank Sinatra, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan and Olivia Newton-John. It also appeared in season two of Yellowjackets in 2023, sung by Elijah Wood.