Janet Munro

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Janet Munro
Janet Munro.jpg
Born Janet Neilson Horsburgh
(1934-09-28)28 September 1934
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Died 6 December 1972(1972-12-06) (aged 38)
Archway, London, England
Cause of death Ischemic heart disease
Resting place Golders Green Crematorium
Occupation Actress
Years active 1957–1972
Tony Wright
(m. 1956; div. 1959)

Ian Hendry
(m. 1963; div. 1971)
Children 2
Parent(s) Alex Munro
Phyllis Robertshaw

Janet Neilson Horsburgh (28 September 1934 – 6 December 1972), better known as Janet Munro, was an English actress. She won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the film Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) and received a BAFTA Film Award nomination for her performance in the film Life for Ruth (1962).

Munro starred in three Disney films: Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959), Third Man on the Mountain (1959) and Swiss Family Robinson (1960). Other notable film credits were in The Trollenberg Terror (1958) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961).


Born Janet Neilson Horsburgh, the daughter of Scottish comedian Alex Munro (real name Alexander Neilson Horsburgh) and his wife, Phyllis Robertshaw, in Blackpool, Lancashire in 1934, she used her father's stage name professionally. [1]

She grew up on the road with her father, often appearing with him on stage. Her mother died when Janet was seven. She moved to the town of Embsay at aged ten to live with her aunt and uncle for a time. When her father remarried she was raised by him and her stepmother. After leaving school she went to work in a shoe shop but her goal was to become an actor.[2][3]

Early Appearances[edit]

Munro began acting professionally at age 17. She appeared in repertory theatre, working in Preston, Oldham and Hull. Her wage at the time was around £8 a week.[2]

Munro appeared in a BBC TV adaptation of I Capture the Castle (1954), playing the lead part of Rose.

She had a small part in the Gordon Harker comedy Small Hotel (1957) and started appearing regularly on British TV shows such as ITV Television Playhouse ("One of Us", "Pickup Girl", "Lace on Her Petticoat") and Armchair Theatre ("Trial by Candlelight", "The Deaf Heart").

Munro could be seen in ingenue parts in The Trollenberg Terror (1958) and The Young and the Guilty (1958) and had the romantic lead in a TV adaptation of Berkeley Square (1959) for Hallmark Hall of Fame.[4]


She was particularly well received in "Pick Up Girl". Munro was cast as the female lead in Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959). Disney liked her performance and signed her to a five year contract.[3] [5]

He kept her on as the female lead in Third Man on the Mountain (1959) opposite James MacArthur. Contemporary reports compared her to June Allyson.[6]

After playing Tommy Steele's love interest in Tommy the Toreador (1959), Munro made a third for Disney, Swiss Family Robinson (1960), again romancing MacArthur.

She was going to be in Bon Voyage with Karl Malden but it was not made for another few years, with Deborah Walley in the role announced for Munro.[7]

She did Time Remembered (1961) for US television then made a fifth and final film for Disney, The Horsemasters (1961).[8]

British films[edit]

Munro was the female lead in the science fiction film The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), one of her best remembered parts.[9]

She had a good role in Life for Ruth (1962) which earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Female Actor.[10]

She returned to Armchair Theatre ("Girl in a Bird Cage", "Afternoon of a Nymph") and was top billed in a film for the first time with Bitter Harvest (1963), but it was not a success.[11]

Munro was the female lead in Hide and Seek (1964) and A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964).

Munro took time off to concentrate on raising a family but went back to it after her second marriage ended in divorce. She appeared in episodes of Vendetta ("The Running Man"), and Thirty-Minute Theatre ("Turn Off If You Know the Ending") and had a support part in Sebastian (1968).[12]

Munro travelled to New York to star in a TV adaptation of The Admirable Crichton (1968).[13]

Later Career[edit]

Munro was in ITV Playhouse ("Premiere: Flower Dew"), and Cry Wolf (1969). She had the lead in a series, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1969).

Her last roles were in Play for Today ("The Piano"), and in several episodes of the TV series Adam Smith.

Personal Life[edit]

Munro was married to Tony Wright from 1956 until 1959. She married the actor Ian Hendry in 1963, and they had two children, Sally and Corrie. Munro and Hendry were divorced in 1971.[citation needed]


Munro died from a heart attack caused by chronic ischaemic heart disease at Whittington Hospital, north London in 1972, aged 38 years.[14][15] She was cremated and interred at the Golders Green Crematorium.


Year Film Role Other notes
1957 Small Hotel Effie
1958 The Young and the Guilty Sue Connor
The Trollenberg Terror Anne Pilgrim Alternative title: The Crawling Eye (U.S. theatrical release)
1959 Darby O'Gill and the Little People Katie O'Gill With Sean Connery
Third Man on the Mountain Lizbeth Hempel
Tommy the Toreador Amanda
1960 Swiss Family Robinson Roberta 'Bertie'
1961 The Day the Earth Caught Fire Jeannie Craig
1962 Life for Ruth Pat Harris Alternative title: Walk in the Shadow
1963 Bitter Harvest Jennie Jones
1964 Hide and Seek Maggie
They All Died Laughing Delia Brooks
Daylight Robbery
1968 Sebastian Carol Fancy
1972 Cry Wolf Polly
Year Title Role Notes
1957 ITV Television Playhouse Elizabeth Collins 1 episode
1958–1962 Armchair Theatre Anne
4 episodes, including Afternoon of a Nymph
1957–1968 Hallmark Hall of Fame Helen Pettigrew
3 episodes
1967 Thirty-Minute Theatre Carol 1 episode
1968–1969 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Helen Graham 4 episodes
1971 Play for Today Mabel 1 episode
1972 Adam Smith Elizabeth Crichton 5 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1960 17th Golden Globe Awards Most Promising Newcomer – Female
Darby O'Gill and the Little People
1963 16th British Academy Film Awards Best British Actress
Life for Ruth


  1. ^ Hershman, Gabriel (2013). Send in the Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry. lulu.com. p. 60. ISBN 1291270973. 
  2. ^ a b [url-http://www.cravenherald.co.uk/nostalgia/nostalgia_history/4681919.Too_short_life_of_star_who_captiva/ www.cravenherald.co.uk/nostalgia/nostalgia_history/4681919.Too_short_life_of_star_who_captiva/]
  3. ^ a b Hopper, H. (1958, Jul 13). You'll love janet munro! Chicago Daily Tribune Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182125751?accountid=13902
  4. ^ Smith, C. (1959, Feb 05). THE TV SCENE---. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167447196?accountid=13902
  5. ^ Jennings, B. (1960, Mar 19). EVERYTHING HAPPENS TO ME. Picture show, , 7–8. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1880298630?accountid=13902
  6. ^ Hopper, H. (1958, Apr 29). Walt disney discovery, janet munro, to be star. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182172561?accountid=13902
  7. ^ By A.H. WEILER. (1960, Dec 25). GREAT EXPECTATIONS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/115084507?accountid=13902
  8. ^ Hopper, H. (1960, Aug 20). Walt disney will film romantic teen comedy. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182536538?accountid=13902
  9. ^ "Movie gossip". The Australian Women's Weekly. 28, (51). Australia, Australia. 24 May 1961. p. 19. Retrieved 28 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ 18 FILMS COMPETE FOR BRITISH TITLE. (1963, Feb 04). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/116512767?accountid=13902
  11. ^ ""Bitter Harvest"". Western Herald. New South Wales, Australia. 2 April 1965. p. 5. Retrieved 28 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ Adler, R. (1968, Jan 25). Sebastian' arrives. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/118244553?accountid=13902
  13. ^ Television news. (1968, Apr 28). Chicago Tribune (1963-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/175700255?accountid=13902
  14. ^ Obituary Variety, 13 December 1972, pg. 63
  15. ^ "Death". The Canberra Times. 47, (13,301). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 8 December 1972. p. 5. Retrieved 28 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia. 

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