Van Johnson Dies at 92
The Celebrity Cafe, December 12, 2008

Written by: Amy Chandler

1940s actor Van Johnson dies of natural causes in New York.

Van Johnson, 1940s star, died Friday of natural causes at Tappan Zee Manor, an assisted living center in Nyack, N.Y., reported the Associated Press. Johnson was known as an all-American boy-next-door type, famous for movies like 30 Seconds over Tokyo, The Caine Mutiny, and Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. On TV, he was famous for his appearances on I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball was a close friend of Johnson, and she was the one who got him his big break by introducing Johnson to a casting director after many failed attempts to break into the business.

"Lucille tried to cheer me up, but I just couldn't seem to laugh," Johnson said in an interview. "Suddenly she said to me, 'There's Billy Grady over there; he's MGM's casting director. I'm going to introduce you, and at least you're going to act like you're the star I think you will be."

Johnson proved to be a versatile actor, performing in comedies, war movies, musicals, and dramas, and was nicknamed "the non-singing Sinatra." Injuries from a car crash prevented him from being drafted, and, due to the shortage of male actors because of the war, Johnson rose to stardom.

Johnson was survived by one daughter. He was 92.

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A little Bit more on:

Charles Van Dell Johnson

Dec 17 2008 by Laura Davis, Liverpool Daily Post

MEN would usually boast about impressing the silver screen goddess Ingrid Bergman with their wit, charm or large wallet.

Instead, Van Johnson could tell of her reaction to his persistence with an autograph book in backstage Hollywood - "If that boy annoys me once more, I'm going to scream," she had announced.

Born Charles Van Dell Johnson, on Rhode Island, where his father was a real estate salesman, he became fascinated by the touring companies that played the local theatres.

After high school, he announced his intention to try his luck in New York, where he arrived in 1934 with five dollars and his belongings packed in a straw suitcase.

Johnson's tour of casting offices landed him nothing but chorus jobs, but a bit part in a Hollywood movie won him a contract with Warner Bros.

Later ditched by the film company, he was introduced to MGM's casting director by actress Lucille Ball and his career finally took off.

His big break, with Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy in the wartime fantasy, A Guy Named Joe, was almost wiped out by tragedy.

On April 1, 1943, his DeSoto convertible was struck head-on by another car. A Guy Named Joe was postponed for his recovery, and the resulting forehead scar went unnoticed in his resulting popularity.

MGM cashed in on his stardom with three or four films a year. Among them: The White Cliffs of Dover, Two Girls and a Sailor, Weekend at the Waldorf, High Barbaree, Mother Is a Freshman, No Leave No Love and Three Guys Named Mike.

A heart-throb with young girls in the 40s, he married only once, eloping to Mexico at the height of his career to marry Eve Wynn.

The marriage produced a daughter, Schuyler, and ended bitterly 13 years later. "She wiped me out in the ugliest divorce in Hollywood history," he told reporters. Wynn had divorced his good friend Keenan Wynn four hours before her marriage to Johnson.

Aged 92, he died in an assisted living centre in New York.

Charles Van Dell Johnson, actor; born August 25, 1916, died December 12, 2008

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