( b. Aug 25, 1916 Newport, Rhode Island, USA - d. Dec 12, 2008 Nyack, New York, USA ) Male
Van Johnson was a handsome and affable screen star who reached such heights of popularity during the 1940s that he was called "The Voiceless Sinatra."
Red-haired, blue-eyed, tall and preternaturally wholesome, the former Broadway chorus boy skyrocketed to fame during the years of World War II, when Hollywood was casting around for replacements for missing stars. On the strength of his innocent, all-American charm, and roles in a string of light comedies and dramas, he was mobbed by bobby-soxers wherever he went. In 1945, he was the second biggest box office draw in the nation, behind Bing Crosby.
His big break was in a 1943 war movie called "A Guy Named Joe." He is best-remembered today for a series of movie musicals, in which he played opposite some equally all-American female stars, such as June Allyson and Esther Williams. He acted with Judy Garland in "In the Good Old Summertime" (1949) and alongside Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in "Brigadoon" (1954).
Mr. Johnson and Kelly knew each other from their Broadway days, when the younger man was the understudy to Kelly's Joey in the 1940 production of Pal Joey. Prior to that, Mr. Johnson had taken roles in New Faces of 1936 and Too Many Girls. He would return to the stage in the mid-60s, acting in Come On Strong, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Mating Dance. In the 1980s, he played George for a term in the Broadway premiere of La Cage aux Folles.
He played a version of F. Scott Fitzgerald opposite Elizabeth Taylor in "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (1954), had a significant role in "The Caine Mutiny" the same year, and starred in "The End of the Affair" with Sarah Miles. In the 1960s and '70s, when the film roles dried up, he did a lot of television and became one of the most familiar faces on the summer-stock theatre circuit, touring for three decades. He also accepted a two-year contract to star in The Music Man in London.
In 1985 he was well used by Woody Allen as one of the old-time Hollywood stars trapped in a frozen black-and-white film in "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
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