Still no damehood in sight as Glyins Johns triumphantly celebrates her 100th

She world’s oldest actress, Glynis Johns, celebrates her 100th birthday today amid renewed calls for her to be made a Dame. She was Oscar-nominated, Bafta and Tony-awarded, and was in countless films, including Mary Poppins, alongside everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Sandra Bullock.

And later she appeared in much-loved TV shows like Batman, Cheers and Murder She Wrote in a stellar career over seven decades.

Since the deaths in recent years of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Olivia de Havilland, she’s also been the world’s oldest living screen star.

After the Daily Express revealed the apparent omission in the spring, calls have been growing for her incredible career and longevity to be marked with a Damehood.

And today, as she reaches her milestone, those calls reach a crescendo. Her grandson Thomas Forwood, the star’s closest relative, told the Express: “Glynnie will be celebrating her 100th birthday today in California where she’s lived for some years.

She will be spending her special day privately and quietly with close friends and family. And she will be thrilled to get her

letter from the King congratulating her on reaching 100.” He said it would be “the icing on the cake” if her milestone birthday could be a prompt for her to be finally honoured with a Damehood.

He said: “Her Welsh heritage gives Glynis an affinity with King Charles who was Prince of Wales for so many years – and the current Prince of Wales, Prince William, who has been president of Bafta for many years.

“It would be nice if they could take note of the suggestion that she now be honoured and arrange something. It would be a lovely way to mark her hundredth.”

Calls for a Damehood have grown as the centenary of her birth approached. Hundreds of fans believe her contribution to British film and theatre appears to have been overlooked.

Last month Vanessa Feltz wrote in her Daily Express column: “Glynis’s family would love her legacy to be acknowledged with a Damehood.

“So would I. Let’s hope the powers that be get their skates on sharpish. Winifred Banks has been my heroine since I was four and I suspect is many of yours too. It should be Dame Glynis… pronto.

READ MORE. Julie Andrews unrecognisable in throwback snaps in honor of 88th birthday

While Damehoods have been awarded to Maureen Lipman, Joanna Lumley, Sheila Hancock, Penelope Keith, Joan Collins, Judi Dench and Emma Thompson – their senior colleague Glynis has been mysteriously snubbed.

Among her fans is veteran Labour MP Chris Bryant, who has held the shadow brief for both the Arts and Culture, Media and Sport.

He told the Express: “What a wonderful occasion this centenary is. Glynis had an exceptional career in film, on TV and on stage, continuing from the 1930s to the eve of the new millennium.

“She certainly deserves recognition for her contribution to British cultural life. “It seems like this would be an apposite moment to right a wrong – and to formally acknowledge her achievement with an honour.

Although her CV can certainly be compared with many of her peers who have been awarded a Damehood – outstanding actors like Angela Lansbury, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith – Glynis has for some reason been overlooked.”

Remarkably, she made her stage debut as a baby just a few weeks old – when her proud grandmother, a virtuoso violinist, took her on stage in the West End to applause.

Her mother was also an accomplished musician, but it was her father who gave her an entry to the thespian world: actor Mervyn Johns was a household name in the early years of British cinema.

And under his guidance she enrolled first in ballet school, where Angela Lansbury was two years below her, and later stage school.

She first appeared on the West End stage aged eight and was in her first film in 1938 – the Yorkshire drama South Riding which
was remade for TV with Anna Maxwell Martin and David Morrissey in 2011.

It was the first of countless film parts in the decades that followed. Stars she appeared alongside included, James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, David Niven, Danny Kaye, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Lana Turner, Roger Moore, Deborah Kerr, Jack Hawkins, Ralph Richardson, Richard Todd, Richard Attenborough, Alec Guinness, Diana Dors, as well as her own father Mervyn.

Her best-known early part was as a mermaid in the 1948 romcom Miranda, said to have inspired hit 1984 movie Splash, starring Daryl Hannah.

In 1960 she was Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the Australian outback drama The Sundowners also starring Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov – and again her own father.

The part she is probably best known for came in 1964, when she played Winifred Banks, the suffragette matriarch in Mary Poppins. The film was a huge hit, and her part one of its most memorable.

In the 1970s she appeared in the musical A Little Night Music. Composer Stephen Sondheim wrote his most famous song, Send In The Clowns, with her in mind.

She played the mother of Shelley Long’s character Diane in Cheers and appeared alongside her former schoolmate Lansbury in Murder She Wrote. Other popular TV shows she graced included Batman and Scooby Doo. Her final film role came in
the 1999 film Superstar, a comedy with Will Ferrell.

She also appeared in nineties films, often in grandmother roles, alongside the likes of Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey.

She married four times and outlived every husband, as well as her only son. Based in Hollywood for the latter part of her career, she stayed on when she finally retired in the early 2000s and is now living in a residential home in Beverly Hills. ]

Her closest surviving relative is her only grandchild, Thomas, 48, now a screenwriter based in Paris

Thomas said: “My grandmother had an amazing career over more than half a century. We are all immensely proud of her.”

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