Joanna Morley Horder was the younger daughter of the famous English architect, Percy Richard Morley Horder. She was brought up in London and lived in Hamilton Terrace, St. John’s Wood, as well as 5, Arlington Street, W1. Her older sister, Barbara Morley Horder was also an actress and director.
Joanna Horder attended the London Theatre Studio in Islington run by Michel Saint-Denis, with one of the theatre school’s directors being Sir John Gielgud. She trained there with Peter Ustinov, a lifelong friend.
Joanna performed mainly on the stage in the productions listed here. She played with some of the great actors of the time such as Sir Richard Attenborough, Dirk Bogarde and appeared in a play by Peter Ustinov called ‘The Love of Four Colonels’.
Robert Donat wanted her to star with him in ‘Young Mr. Pitt’ which came out in 1942 but the studio had chosen Phyllis Calvert. However, her screen test with Donat was rated very highly.
Joanna worked mainly in theatre and her longest running job was during World War II with Leonard Sachs’ very popular Player’s Theatre, in Charing Cross, London (later televised as ‘The Good Old Days’). Joanna sang to the audience while playing her guitar in ’Late Joys’ as the bombs were dropping in central London. Only the Player’s and Windmill Theatres remained open during the heavy bombing and many of the audience would sleep the night at the Players ‘underneath the Arches’, which doubled as a bomb shelter.
One of the photographs here shows her on the cover of the 12th December 1942 edition of Picture Post starring in a production of the famous melodrama Maria Marten with Julian Somers.
In the early days of television in 1948, she played Mary in a BBC nativity play by Dorothy L. Sayers, called ‘He that Should Come’. In the Sixties, Joanna moved to Richmond, Surrey and joined the Richmond Shakespeare Society starring in productions of Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ and the recently revived play ‘The Physicists’ by Friedrich Dürrennmatt, as well as Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’.
The final work Joanna did was in the late 1970s, whilst living in Bristol, when she read out the letters on Radio 4’s ‘Any Answers’ with David Jacobs, being the twin programme for ‘Any Questions’.