Saturday, December 13, 2008

Van Johnson: 1916-2008

Van Johnson, former heartthrob and popular actor of stage and screen, died yesterday at the age of 92.

Johnson's film career took off in the early 1940's when most of the leading men of Hollywood were off fighting World War II. In addition to his all-American looks, his versatility also contributed to his stardom, proving himself equally adept at dramas, comedies and musicals. Of his over eighty movies, notable titles include A Guy Named Joe, Two Girls and a Sailor, The White Cliffs of Dover, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, In the Good Old Summertime, The Caine Mutiny, Brigadoon, The Last Time I Saw Paris, The End of the Affair and The Purple Rose of Cairo.

On television, Johnson danced with his longtime friend Lucille Ball on a memorable I Love Lucy episode and was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-starring in Rich Man, Poor Man. Later in his career, he found success on the stage, starring in The Music Man in London and La Cage aux Folles on Broadway.

UPDATE: Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23, with a five-film festival saluting his career.

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