Its director, Mitch Klemm, confirmed the death but did not provide a specific cause.
Ms. Jones's soulful, husky voice — which she attributed to “slightly contorted” vocal cords that allowed the air to hit “soprano and contralto at the same time” — made her a distinctive presence in nearly 60 films and dozens of television movies. Appearances and dozens of theatrical performances.
Film historian David Shipman once described Ms. Jones, with her combination of sex appeal and exotic charm, as “one of the most attractive heroines of the 1940s, and one of the few in British films who knew how to play comedy.” She became a box office star in England but found little joy in stardom, telling a reporter: “It's not a fun way to make a living.” . . . “It made me sick, tired and unhappy.”
She attributed the failure of at least one of her four marriages to the pressures of being a leading lady, and by the early 1960s, she had settled into a long and varied career as a character actress, enlivening even mediocre performers with her offbeat appeal.
Ms. Jones represents the fourth generation in a show business family. Her parents, who were touring South Africa in a musical when she was born, settled in England, where Ms. Jones studied ballet so intensively that she obtained a teaching certificate at the age of 10. A voice (“like honey on a graham cracker,” as one arts writer enthused) propelled her career in theater and film.
After several youthful screen roles, she broke into stardom with “Miranda” (1948) as a fish-tailed seductress whose flowing blonde hair provided strategic cover for her upper body.
The film, a fantasy comedy about a sexually progressive heroine, was a major commercial success. Ms. Jones reprized the part in the 1954 Technicolor sequel, Mad About Men, and received a large number of credits in other films, but few of any consequence. Ms. Jones, however, was usually cast for action-packed work, whether opposite Alec Guinness in the slapstick farce “The Meadowsweet” (1952) or opposite Richard Todd in the swashbuckling live-action Disney films “The Sword and the Roses” and “Rob Roy” (both 1953).
In Hollywood, she played a beautiful girl in The Court Jester (1956), a musical comedy set in medieval England and starring Danny Kaye. That same year, she and Hermione Gingold appeared briefly as “sporting ladies” — prostitutes — in the all-star vehicle “Around the World in 80 Days.”
She received an Academy Award nomination for her supporting role as a hostel in The Sundowners (1960), a drama set in the Australian outback with Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.
“Mary Poppins” (1964) was a fine showcase for Julie Andrews as the singing English nurse, but Ms. Jones proved delightfully eccentric and a useful singer in the supporting part of the children's mother, Mrs. Banks.
On television, Ms. Jones starred with Keith Andes in the short-lived CBS sitcom “Glennis” (1963), about a husband-and-wife team of amateur detectives, and played Lady Penelope Bessop in the 1960s TV series “Batman ,” among other guest roles. She's also backed into low-quality horror films, while maintaining a strong theatrical career.
The show that dominated her CV was Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's “A Little Night Music” (1973), inspired by Ingmar Bergman's ludicrous romantic show “Smiles of a Summer Night” (1955). Ms. Jones was cast as the courtesan and world-weary actress Desiree Armfeldt more on the basis of her acting strength than her voice.
On the day of the preview for a VIP audience, Sondheim came to work teary-eyed after spending all night writing a song: “Send in the Clowns,” a bittersweet song about life’s lost opportunities, director and producer Harold Prince said. He and Ms. Jones “loved it,” Prince recalled to Sondheim biographer Meryl Seacrest. When we talked about the guts of a prison inmate, Glynis said, “If I put the lyrics to a piece of paper, I would be singing them in front of an audience today.”
Sondheim later told Secrest that he modeled the song on what Secrest called Ms. Johns' “silver little voice” and that “nobody could sing it like her.” Word choice – from the well-known first line, “Ain't she rich?” – She made the most of her limits by breathing after the “ch” sound.
In Sondheim's opinion, the professional singers who later recorded it—including Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins—were actually too expert at smooth phrasing to capture its bitter essence.
The show, which ran for 601 performances, earned five other Tony Awards in addition to Ms. Jones winning for Best Actress in a Musical, including Best Musical. She later told the Associated Press that “Send in the Clowns” was “the greatest gift I've ever received in theater.”
Glynis Margaret Jones was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on October 5, 1923. Her father was Welsh-born actor Mervyn Jones. Her mother, Australian-born pianist Alice Steele Payne, came from a family of artists.
After several stage roles in London, most notably as a tough student in Lillian Hellman's “The Children's Hour,” Ms. Jones signed a film contract and excelled as Ralph Richardson's uptight teenage daughter in “Southern Riding” (1938). Her career received a major boost when she appeared with Laurence Olivier in 49th Parallel (1941), as a young Canadian Hutterite villager who meets the crew of a stranded German submarine.
Ms. Jones played opposite her father as the daughter of a mysterious hotel owner in the ghost story “The Halfway House” (1944), and brought an otherworldly flavor to the role of the friend who helps Kerr free her from the routine of married life in the film. “Leave from Marriage” (1945).
Among her later supporting roles, she gave a much-needed spark to The Chapman Report (1962), as a poetry-speaking housewife who proposes to a football player's Adonis only to find him a rude lover. I'm also past the lifeless comedy “Lock up your girls!” (1969) as the delightfully lecherous Mrs. Squeezum.
In some of her final screen performances, she played the cruel mother to Kevin Spacey in The Ref (1994) and the grandmother in Sandra Bullock's romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping (1995).
On stage, Ms. Jones made a strong impression in the 1956 Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw's “Major Barbara,” in which she portrayed the idealistic title character opposite Charles Laughton in the role of her munitions-maker father, and in the role of four long-suffering women in John's sex comedy Mortimer. “Come As You Are” was a hit song in London in 1970.
Her appearance with Rex Harrison and Stuart Granger in the 1989 Broadway revival of Somerset Maugham's romantic comedy “The Circle” was largely seen by critics as an opportunity to catch the three veteran performers — “the sly old foxes who play them,” he said. A Times reviewer. Frank Rich noted.
Ms Jones, who retired in her late 70s, admitted she did not feel like a “whole person” off stage, and colleagues described her as insecure and even fearful when she was not performing. “Glynis is a complete crowd of people. You're never sure who you're going to meet from one hour to the next,” Andis, her sitcom co-star, once told TV Guide.
Her marriages were short-lived. The first, by actor Anthony Forwood, took a startling turn when he left her for movie star Dirk Bogarde. Her subsequent marriages to business executives David Foster and Cecil Henderson and author Elliot Arnold ended in divorce. Her son from her first marriage, Gareth Forwood, died in 2007.
She had no immediate survivors.
“I turned professional when I was 12, so this has always been my life,” Ms. Jones once told The Times, looking back on her time as an actress.
“Later, I wanted to live what I thought was a ‘normal’ existence, but I soon discovered that I was not.” She continued: “As usual away from the stage as on it. Acting is my highest form of intelligence, and it is a time when I use the best part of my brain. My married friends have always told me, for example, that I can apply this intelligence to something else, besides… Another aspect of life, but I can't. I don't have the same taste in other things.