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Joanna Barnes, ‘The Parent Trap’ and ‘Spartacus’ actress, dead at 89

Joanna Barnes, 'The Parent Trap' and 'Spartacus' actress, dead at 89

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Joanna Barnes, a longtime film and television actress who appeared in both versions of the classic comedy “The Parent Trap,” died Friday at her home in The Sea Ranch, California. She was 89 and succumbed to what was described as a lengthy illness by friend Sally Jackson.

In 1961, she played the role of gold digger Vicky Robinson in the original movie “The Parent Trap.” In the 1998 remake, she had the role of Vicki Blake, the gold digger’s mother. Her many film credits include “Home Before Dark,” “Spartacus” and “The War Wagon.”

Her extensive television credits include starring in three series — “21 Beacon Street,” “The Trials of O’Brien” and “Dateline Hollywood.” She was a frequent guest on dozens of TV series, including “The Millionaire,” “Mannix,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Cheers.” Joanna was a guest on many of TV’s early quiz programs and chat shows, including “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth” and “The Johnny Carson Show.”

Joanna Barnes, seen here in 1957, appeared in both versions of “The Parent Trap.”
(ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Born in 1934 in Boston, she grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts. She was a graduate of Milton Academy and Smith College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She moved to California and soon drew the attention of audiences playing the ditsy debutante, Gloria Upson, in the 1958 film, “Auntie Mame.” She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for that performance.


While pursuing her acting career, Barnes was also an author. Her four published novels include “The Deceivers,” “Who is Carla Hart,” “Pastora” and “Silverwood.” In nonfiction, she wrote “Starting from Scratch,” a book that grew out of her syndicated newspaper column, “Touching Home.”

Joanna Barnes appeared in 1966’s “The War Wagon” alongside John Wayne (left) and Kirk Douglas.
(FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)

Barnes married architect Jack Lionel Warner in 1980. They lived in Montecito, California, in a house he designed. In 2005, they left Santa Barbara County for The Sea Ranch, where Warner designed and built a house for them overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He died in 2012.

Joanna Barnes led a decades-long career in both film and television.
(ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)


Joanna’s two earlier marriages ended in divorce. Her parents John Pindar Barnes and Alice Weston (Mutch) preceded her in death. She is survived by her two sisters, Lally Barnes Freeman of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Judith Barnes Wood of Snellville, Georgia, and Jack’s three children: John Barnes of Goleta, California; Laura Warner of Santa Barbara; and Louise Warner of Whidby Island, Washington. A lifelong animal lover, she is also survived by her dog Gracie Warner.

No memorial plans have been announced.

Darshan Shah
the authorDarshan Shah