Lisa Janti

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Lisa Janti
Born Irena Ludmilla Vladimirovna Augustinovich
(1933-07-05) July 5, 1933 (age 85)
Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland
Other names Lisa Montell
Occupation Actor, author
Years active 1955–1962
Spouse(s) Azenat Janti/David Janti (?-?) (divorced)
Children 1

Lisa Janti (born July 5, 1933)[1] is known as Lisa Montell as a Hollywood actress of the 1950-60s, and then shifted her career to one of advocacy and service to various disadvantaged groups and to her adopted religion, the Bahá'í Faith.


Lisa Janti, known as Lisa Montell as a Hollywood actress of the 1950-60s, was born Irena Ludmila Vladimirovna Augustynowic of Russian-Polish ancestry,[2] and her family fled to Poland before World War II. On arrival in New York they changed their last name to Montwill so she grew up Irene Montwill.[1] They lived in New York and Janti attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts but transferred to High School of Performing Arts after it opened in 1948 where she became involved with acting.[3] However her family moved her senior year in high school to Fort Pierce, Florida where she graduated from St. Lucie High School and then began taking courses at the University of Miami.[1] Shortly her family moved to Peru where her father had a business interest. After becoming involved in English-speaking theatre she was noticed by Hollywood producer Dick Welding who offered her a part in Daughter of the Sun God, filmed in Peru c. 1953 with actor William Holmes, (though it wasn't released until 1962.) Shortly afterwards her father died and the family chose to follow the opportunity Hollywood was giving her with her career.[3] Her first role may have been in 1954 in the TV series The Public Defender, based on the film of the same name.[4]

In 1956 she joined the Bahá'í Faith.[3] Janti states that her family background included a diverse religious family history of (paternal grandmother) Orthodox Russian and Islam, (father & paternal grandfather) Catholicism, (mother) a Christian Protestant, and (maternal grandmother) Judaism, but Janti herself was baptized Lutheran.[3] In addition to her diverse background she explored various religions and philosophies, including studying with Manly Palmer Hall, when she learned of the religion. She learned of the Bahá'í Faith from other actors in a workshop and in her first meeting with Bahá'ís they resolved some questions she still had from her previous studies with the teaching of Progressive Revelation. In addition she had a profound personal experience affirming Bahá'u'lláh. For Janti joining the religion played a role in changing her career from an actor to a social development advocate which she felt was a more fulfilling way of serving the religion than as a celebrity.[3]

She married in 1957[5] and had a daughter, born in 1959.[1] Her first public talks for the religion began by 1960.[6][7] By 1962 her continued discomfort with the trend of Hollywood movies according to her point of view continued her seeking to be of greater service than being a celebrity that could bring attention to causes.[3][8] Janti was known as many diverse ethnic roles though she was Polish and could speak Spanish but the roles had dubious cultural and sexist stereotypes.[9][10][11] She was drifting away from her acting career and began to work on several advocacy/service projects while continuing to work in the arts.[12] About 1962-3 she was a chair of Human Relations Committee of Culver City[13] and was giving talks on race unity. She also worked on Project People which she co-hosted with Tom Bradley around 1963-4 (before he became mayor of Los Angeles) on KCOP-TV,[3] was among the group addressing a panel of Hopi leaders at a World Peace Day observance[14] and gave several talks as part of World Peace Day observances in Phoenix including one in Spanish.[15] In 1964 she spoke at a Bahá'í youth conference in Pasadena[16] as well as another talk at a Bahá'í event on race unity in Westwood.[17] In 1965 she spoke at a Temple City Bahá'í event,[18] and finally broke from acting completely.[3] She spoke at a 100th anniversary observance of the Bahá'í Faith and moved to Tucson as a director of a reading institute[19] Child Development Centers Inc.[20] After some years of volunteering at Head Start beginning in 1965 in Watts[3][21] by 1970 she took a position directing a Head Start program near Tucson Arizona for the Tohono O'odham on their Reservation.[3] By this time Janti had also been chair of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Culver City and serving as a delegate to the national Bahá'í convention multiple times. She attempted to pioneer internationally to Ghana but a change in policy of the government ended her opportunity there before she could start.[3] Instead she continued her talks for the religion,[22] and took a position with Bradley's administration after 1973 by being a liaison with various coalitions and commissions, dealing with various poverty, elderly, art and youth programs[3] and continued advocacy through Bahá'í talks for equality for women at different conferences[23] including one highlighting the 1975 UN Women's Conference in Mexico.[24] And she served as chair of the Los Angeles Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly while honoring the educational center Plaza de la Raza with a replica of the Aztec calendar stone.[25]

By the 1980s Janti left Tom Bradley's staff, took graduate courses and then served on the faculty of School of Education at National University near San Diego teaching courses in holistic education based on the ANISA model.[3] She also continued to speak at Bahá'í conferences like the Oregon state women's conference,[26] served on the team commemorating Dizzy Gillespie's 50th yr in music in 1985[27] and was on the team giving a "spiritual parenting" workshop at a children's conference in Pasadena in 1987.[28]

In 1992, she worked on projects for the city of Los Angeles and as executive director of U.P. Inc. founded by David Viscott.[12] From November 2000[29] to September 2001,[30] Janti worked on the Commission on Older Americans for Santa Monica. After publishing an introductory text on the religion in 2005,[31] she served as the program director of the Desert Rose Bahá'í Institute at least circa 2008-9[32] and she continued to write.[3]

Film and television

Most of her later career was in the Western genre. Her first role may have been in 1954 in the TV series The Public Defender, based on the film of the same name.[4]

On television she was on the Cheyenne show episode "Border Showdown" (Showdown in Paso Also) of 1955 and the 1956 Jane Wyman's Fireside Theater episode "A Time to live" and the Sugarfoot show episode "Guns for Big Bear" in 1958.[33] In 1962 she was in Combat! episode "A Day in June".[34]

Janti was known as the "Starlet of many faces" probably portraying more diverse ethnic roles though she was Polish including Polynesian, Native American, Mexican, Burmese, French, Italian, Spanish, east Indian and Persian[4][35] – roles with dubious cultural and sexist stereotypes.[9][10] Among the productions Janti was cast in are She Gods of Shark Reef, Ten Thousand Bedrooms, Pearl of the South Pacific, Jump Into Hell, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, and World Without End.[36]

Further research

  • Lisa Janti (Mar 22, 2016). Interview with Lisa Janti Baha'i Heritage Project (Youtube). Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles Baha'i Center on. 


  1. ^ a b c d "Lisa Montell Profile". Profiles. Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  2. ^ Biography
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Warren Odess-Gillett interviews Lisa Janti". A Baha’i Perspective. Season 2009. April 4, 2009. Archived from the original on January 14, 2014.  External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b c "Filmograph: Lisa Montell" (Press release). Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ Lisa Montell wed in Baha'i ceremony (AP) story in The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 1 April 1957 • Page 35
  6. ^ Mrs Janti will talk on Baha'i, Independent (Long Beach, California), 29 October 1960 • Page 5
  7. ^ First annual observance of world peace day proclaims America's spiritual destiny: The world Peace Day panel, Bahá'í News, November 1960, p. 7
  8. ^ Review: The New Vision. by Lisa Janti Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. by Dale E. Lehman,, February 17, 2006
  9. ^ a b Jane Caputi (2004). Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power, and Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 57–8. ISBN 978-0-299-19624-0. 
  10. ^ a b Frederic Lombardi (15 March 2013). Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios. McFarland. pp. 283, 284, 286, 343, 358. ISBN 978-0-7864-3485-5. 
  11. ^ Bonnie Noonan (1 January 2005). Women Scientists In Fifties Science Fiction Films. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. pp. 41, 131. ISBN 978-0-7864-2130-5. 
  12. ^ a b "About the Artists". Lisa Janti Website. Lisa Janti. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  13. ^ Unity to be Topic of Baha'i Community, California Eagle June 11, 1964, p. 6
  14. ^ Hopi Reservation conference observes world peace day, Bahá'í News, November 1962, p 10-11
  15. ^ Wide variety of programs proclaim world peace day, Bahá'í News, November 1963, p. 6-7
  16. ^ News Briefs; On the week-end of February..., Bahá'í News, May 1964, p. 12
  17. ^ Race Unity to be Topic of Baha'i Community, California Eagle June 11, 1964, p. 6
  18. ^ Baha'is set fireside talk on new sects, The Arcadia Tribune, (Arcadia, California), 4 November 1965 • Page 35
  19. ^ Mrs. Janti speaker for Baha'i event, Tucson Daily Citizen, 28 October 1967 • Page 10
  20. ^ Baha'is will honor birth of founder, Tucson Daily Citizen, (Tucson, Arizona), 9 November 1968 • Page 9
  21. ^ Art Exhibit, open house to be held Feb 28, The Gallup Independent, (Gallup, New Mexico), 26 February 1970 • Page 3
  22. ^ * Art Exhibit Scheduled in ProNaf, El Paso Herald-Post, 9 February 1972 • Page 30
    • Human Rights Day Program, Tucson Daily Citizen, 10 December 1971 • Page 8
  23. ^ Women held 'key' to peace in world, Grand Prairie Daily News, 24 October 1975 • Page 10
  24. ^ Women is subject of Texas conference, Bahá'í News, November 1975, p. 15
  25. ^ On September 16, the Baha'is of Los Angeles County... (photo caption), Bahá'í News, December 1978, p. 18
  26. ^ Monthly lecture series to begin Eugene Register-Guard, Oct 25, 1980, p. 13
  27. ^ LA Baha'is honor Dizzy Gillespie, Bahá'í News, December 1985, p. 6-7
  28. ^ Pasadena hosts Children's Conference, Bahá'í News, October 1987, p. 10-11
  29. ^ Heineman, Hannah (November 28, 2000). "Council Approves Controversial Parking Zone". Santa Monica Mirror. Archived from the original on July 17, 2001. 
  30. ^ "City of Santa Monica, Regular adjourned City Council meeting agenda". Council meeting minutes. City of Santa Monica. 2001-09-11. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  31. ^ Janti, Lisa (2005). Bahá'í: The New Vision. One World Press. ISBN 978-0-9742014-5-0. 
  32. ^ Desert Rose Annual Report, 2008–9
  33. ^ Television Series and Specials Scripts, 1946-1992: A Catalog of the American Radio Archives Collection. McFarland. 2009. pp. 53, 158, 297. ISBN 978-0-7864-5437-2. 
  34. ^ no title. (1962, Dec 18). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963).
  35. ^ Kisa Montell has success formula, AP, The News and Courier, Dec 5, 1954, p. 13
  36. ^ "Ultra-Rare! New 35mm Print! World Without End". 7th Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science-Fiction 2007. American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 

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