This beautiful, stylish, London-born blonde started out quite promisingly on the stage and in late ’60s films before phasing out her career out in the ’90s. Joanna Pettet was born Joanna Jane Salmon and raised in Canada. Her father, a British Royal Air Force pilot, was killed in WWII. Her trek to New York to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse paid off with subsequent Broadway roles in “Take Her, She’s Mine” (debut: understudy to Elizabeth Ashley), “The Chinese Prime Minister” and “Poor Richard” with Alan Bates, which earned her the Theatre World Award in 1965.
A steady role on The Doctors (1963) daytime soap occurred around this time. Escorted to Hollywood, Joanna stood her ground among the other talented hopefuls such as Candice Bergen, Shirley Knight, Jessica Walter and the late Joan Hackett and Elizabeth Hartman in the glossy Ivy-League film soap The Group (1966). Continuing on, she proved a diverting love interest in the British thriller Robbery (1967) and in the French/English co-production The Night of the Generals (1967), and was one of the more interesting figures to come out of the elephantine James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), in which she played the fetching, exotic-dancing Mata Bond.
A versatile player, she was unfortunately cast in roles that emphasized her beauty rather than her talent. Playboy magazine took an interest, and she graced a nude pictorial in 1968, the same year she married actor Alex Cord. A host of bad films, however, such as Blue (1968) and The Best House in London (1969), put the kibosh on her film career. In the ’70s she was prominently featured in standard TV-movies such as The Weekend Nun (1972), Pioneer Woman (1973), A Cry in the Wilderness (1974), Thriller: A Midsummer Nightmare (1975) (aka “Appointment with a Killer”), Captains and the Kings (1976), Sex and the Married Woman (1977) and The Return of Frank Cannon (1980). Series work included Night Gallery (1969) and Harry O (1973), but nothing led to her stretching her abilities. By the late ’70s she was appearing in “has-been” shows like Fantasy Island (1977) and The Love Boat (1977). Little seen after that, her career ended in low-budget dreck such as Double Exposure (1982), Sweet Country (1987) and Terror in Paradise (1990). Since then, Joanna has been out of the scene.
Divorced from Cord in 1989, her only child, Damien Zachary Cord, fell into a fatal coma after an acute heroin overdose in 1995 at age 26. She later became the caregiver and companion of her friend, actor Alan Bates, until his death from cancer in 2003.
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