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 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 in Miami University.[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 (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 the TV series based on the movie of the same name - The Public Defender in 1954.[4] Most of her later career was in the Western genré.

In the 1956 she joined the Bahá'í Faith.[3] Janti states that her family background included a diverse religious family history of (father's mother) Orthodox Russian and Islam, (father & father's father) Catholicism, (mother) a Christian Protestant, and (mother's mother) 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. 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 and had a daughter, born in 1959.[1] By 1962, uncomfortable with the trend of Hollywood movies according to her point of view and seeking to be of greater service than being a celebrity that could bring attention to causes,[3] she was drifting away from her acting career and began to work on several advocacy/service projects while continuing to work in the arts.[5] Among her early projects along this line is Project People which she co-hosted with Tom Bradley around 1963-4 (before he became mayor of Los Angeles) on KCOP-TV.[3] She finally broke from acting after some years of volunteering at Head Start beginning in 1965 in L.A. when she took a position directing a Head Start program near Tucson Arizona for the Tohono O'odham on their Reservation. She attempted to pioneer internationally to Ghana but a change in policy of the government ended her opportunity there before she could start. Instead she 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] She was elected to the Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Los Angeles and served as Chairperson.[6]

During the 1980s Janti took graduate courses and served on the faculty of School of Education at National University near San Diego teaching courses in holistic education based on the ANISA model. In 1992, she worked on projects for the city of Los Angeles and as executive director of U.P. Inc. founded by David Viscott.[5] From November 2000[7] to September 2001,[8] Janti worked on the Commission on Older Americans for Santa Monica. After publishing an introductory text on the religion in 2005,[9] most recently she's been the program director of the Desert Rose Bahá'í Institute[10] while she continues to write.[3]

Film and television

Janti was known as the "Starlet of many faces" probably portraying more diverse ethnic roles including Polynesian, Native American, Mexican, Burmese, French, Italian, Spanish, east Indian and Persian.[4] Among the productions Janti was cast in are She Gods of Shark Reef, Ten Thousand Bedrooms, Jump Into Hell, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, World Without End.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lisa Montell Profile. Profiles. Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved on 2009-05-12.
  2. Biography
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 "[Odess-Gillett interviews Lisa Janti]". A Baha’i Perspective. episode 04.04.2009. season 2009. 2009-04-04. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Filmograph: Lisa Montell" (Press release). Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 About the Artists. Lisa Janti Website. Lisa Janti. Retrieved on 2009-05-12.
  6. "Baha'i: The New Vision" (Press release). 2005-03-14. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  7. Heineman, Hannah (2000-11-28). "Council Approves Controversial Parking Zone". Santa Monica Mirror. 
  8. City of Santa Monica, Regular adjourned City Council meeting agenda. Council meeting minutes. City of Santa Monica (2001-09-11). Retrieved on 2009-05-15.
  9. Janti, Lisa (2005). Bahá'í: The New Vision. One World Press. ISBN 978-0-9742014-5-0. 
  10. "World in Transition Free Public Forums presents:". Arizona Daily Star (Lee Enterprises). 2009-04-19. 
  11. Ultra-Rare! New 35mm Print! World Without End. 7th Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science-Fiction 2007. American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre. Retrieved on 2009-05-16.

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