Van Johnson

Van Johnson


Van Johnson
Film: South side of the 6500 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Charles Van Dell Johnson on Aug. 25, 1916 in Newport, RI
Died Dec. 12, 2008 in Nyack, NY

Van Johnson soared to stardom during World War II as MGM's boy-next-door in films such as "A Guy Named Joe" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo."

With his broad smile, red hair and freckled face, the tall onetime Broadway chorus boy who personified the wholesome young American man became one of the era's top box-office draws.

"A Guy Named Joe," the 1943 fantasy romantic-drama starring Spencer Tracy as a World War II pilot who is killed in action and returns to Earth in spirit form to help novice pilots, provided a breakout, critically acclaimed role for Johnson: He played a young pilot who falls in love with Tracy's girlfriend (played by Irene Dunne).

Between 1947 and 1954, he had costarring and supporting roles in more than two dozen films, including "State of the Union," "In the Good Old Summertime," "Command Decision," "Battleground," "Brigadoon," "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and "The Caine Mutiny."

Among his later film credits: "Kelly and Me" (1957), "Wives and Lovers" (1963), "Divorce American Style" (1967), "Yours, Mine and Ours" (1968) and "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985).

Over the years, Johnson also made occasional TV guest appearances, and he earned an Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the 1976 miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man."

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