|Born||Joanna Jane Salmon
16 November 1942
London, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Alex Cord (1968–1989); 1 child|
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Her parents, Harold Nigel Edgerton Salmon, a British Royal Air Force pilot killed in World War II, and mother, Cecily J. Tremaine, were married in London in 1940. After the war, her widowed mother remarried and settled in Canada, where young Joanna was adopted by her stepfather and assumed his surname of "Pettet".
She studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse, as well as at the Lincoln Center, and got her start on Broadway in such plays as Take Her, She's Mine, The Chinese Prime Minister and Poor Richard, with Alan Bates and Gene Hackman, before she was discovered by director Sidney Lumet for his sumptuous 1966 film adaptation of Mary McCarthy's novel, The Group. The success of that film launched a film career that included roles in The Night of the Generals (1967), as Mata Bond in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), Peter Yates's Robbery (1967) with Stanley Baker, the strange Western drama Blue (1968) with Terence Stamp, and the Victorian period comedy, The Best House in London (1969).
In 1968 she married the American actor Alex Cord and gave birth to a son later that year. She and Cord were divorced in 1989 after 21 years of marriage. She never remarried.
Although she co-starred with actor Rod Taylor in the 1980 thriller, Cry of the Innocent, her feature film appearances became sporadic. However, Pettet re-emerged as the star of over a dozen made-for-television movies, including The Delphi Bureau (1972), The Weekend Nun (1972), Footsteps (1972), Pioneer Woman (1973), A Cry in the Wilderness (1974), The Desperate Miles (1975), The Hancocks (1976), Sex and the Married Woman (1977), and The Return of Frank Cannon (1980). She also starred in the NBC miniseries Captains and the Kings (1976), guest-starred four times on the classic Rod Serling anthology series Night Gallery, was a frequent guest on both Fantasy Island and The Love Boat (appearing three separate times on each series), and had a recurring role on Knots Landing in 1983 as Janet Baines, an LAPD homicide detective investigating the murder of singer Ciji Dunne (played by Lisa Hartman).
Her last acting appearance was in a "bad action film" called Terror in Paradise in 1990 that was produced by Roger Corman and his frequent Philippine associate Cirio Santiago. During filming in the Philippines she was held hostage by rebels, led by Gregorio Honasan, attempting to overthrow Corazon Aquino, and managed to escape the hotel where she was being held before fleeing the country. By then, she had lost her enthusiasm for acting and decided it was time to bow out gracefully from the entertainment industry.
The grief over the sudden death in 1995 of her 26-year-old son, Damien Zachary Cord, born from her marriage to actor Alex Cord, caused Pettet to retreat even further from Hollywood. For a time, she lived in a remote area in California until she moved to London, where she was actor Alan Bates's companion; he died from pancreatic cancer in London in 2003 at the age of sixty-nine.