Tor Johnson

Last updated
Tor Johnson
PlanNine 10.jpg
Johnson in Plan 9 from Outer Space , 1959
Born
Karl Erik Tore Johansson

(1902-10-19)19 October 1902 or (1903-10-19)19 October 1903
Died12 May 1971 (aged 67–68)
Resting placePlot 177, Eternal Valley Memorial Park, Newhall, Santa Clarita, California
Other names
  • Super Swedish Angel
  • Thor Johnson
  • King Kong
Occupation Professional wrestler, actor
Years active1934–1961
Spouse(s)Greta Maria Alfrida Johansson
Children1

Karl Erik Tore Johansson (19 October 1902 or 1903; sources differ – 12 May 1971), better known by the stage name Tor Johnson, was a Swedish professional wrestler and actor. As an actor, Johnson appeared in many B-movies, including some famously directed by Ed Wood. In professional wrestling, Johnson was billed as Tor Johnson and Super Swedish Angel.

Contents

Early life

Johnson was born on 19 October 1902 in Brännkyrka, Stockholms län, Sweden, the son of Karl Johan Johansson and Lovisa Kristina Pettersson. His death certificate and grave list 1903 as the year of his birth, contradicting published genealogy records. [1]

Career

Johnson stood 6'3" [2] and weighed 440 pounds (200 kg) at his heaviest. He had a full head of blonde hair, but shaved it to maintain an imposing and villainous appearance in his wrestling and acting work. He began getting bit parts in films upon moving to California, usually as the strongman or weightlifter, as early as 1934. His film career ended in the early 1960s, after he appeared in a string of poorly-rated films. However, he continued to make appearances on television and made a number of commercials. [3]

Tor Johnson used the ring name Super Swedish Angel to distinguish himself from Nils Phillip Olafsson who used the ring name Swedish Angel. The name was derived from wrestler Maurice Tillet, known as the French Angel.

During his career as an actor, Johnson befriended director Ed Wood, who directed him in a number of films, including Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space . He was very friendly to work with; actress Valda Hansen, who worked with Johnson in 1959's Night of the Ghouls , described him as "like a big sugar bun." [4] During this period, Johnson appeared as a guest contestant on the quiz show You Bet Your Life , during which he showed the show's host, Groucho Marx, his "scariest face." Marx ran off the stage in mock terror, then returned and pleaded: "Don't make that face again!"

Death and legacy

Johnson in The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) BeastofYuccaFlatts004.jpg
Johnson in The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Johnson died of heart failure in San Fernando, California, at the age of 68. [5] He was buried at Eternal Valley Memorial Park, in Santa Clarita, California. [6]

Johnson was portrayed by wrestler George "The Animal" Steele in Tim Burton's film Ed Wood (1994). [7]

Johnson was featured extensively in the early work of cartoonist Drew Friedman, where Johnson was depicted as "Tor", a slow-witted, white-eyed lummox based on Johnson's persona in Ed Wood's films. [8] The first of the one page comics, "Tor Johnson at Home", was published in a 1981 issue of Robert Crumb's Weirdo , and the original artwork was purchased by television writer and producer Eddie Gorodetsky. [9]

Filmography

Film

YearTitleRoleNotes
1934 Registered Nurse SonnevichUncredited [10]
1934 Kid Millions TorturerUncredited [11]
1935Some ClassTough GuyShort, Uncredited [12] [13]
1935 Man on the Flying Trapeze TosoffUncredited [11]
1936 Under Two Flags BidouUncredited
1941 Shadow of the Thin Man Jack the Ripper (wrestler)Uncredited [14]
1942 Gentleman Jim The MaulerUncredited
1943 The Meanest Man in the World Vladimir PulaskyUncredited [15]
1943 Swing Out the Blues Weightlifter
1944 Ghost Catchers MugUncredited [16]
1944 The Canterville Ghost Bold Sir GuyUncredited [17]
1944 Lost in a Harem MajordomoUncredited
1945 Sudan SlaverUncredited [14]
1947 Road to Rio SandorUncredited [18]
1948 State of the Union WrestlerUncredited
1948 Behind Locked Doors The ChampUncredited" [19]
1949 Alias the Champ Super Swedish Angel
1950 The Reformer and the Redhead Big Finnish manUncredited [20]
1950 Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion Abou Ben
1951 The Lemon Drop Kid Super Swedish Angel
1951 Dear Brat Uncredited
1951 Angels in the Outfield Wrestler On TVUncredited
1952 The San Francisco Story BuckUncredited [21]
1952 Lady in the Iron Mask RenacUncredited [22]
1953 Houdini Strong ManUncredited [23]
1955 Bride of the Monster Lobo
1955 You're Never Too Young Train passengerUncredited [24]
1956 Carousel StrongmanUncredited [25]
1956 The Black Sleep Mr. Curry
1957 Journey to Freedom Giant Turk
1957 The Unearthly LoboJohnson's character famously delivers the line, "Time for go to bed." [26] [27]
1959 Plan 9 from Outer Space Inspector Daniel Clay
1961 The Beast of Yucca Flats Joseph Javorsky / The Beast
1968 Head GuardUncredited
1984 Night of the Ghouls Lobo

Television

YearSeriesRoleEpisode
1953–1954 You Are There "The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown" [28]
"The Surrender of Corregidor" [29]
1954 General Electric Theater Bald Man"To Lift a Feather" [30]
1954 Rocky Jones, Space Ranger Naboro"Inferno in Space" [31]
1956 The Adventures of Hiram Holliday Bandini the Strongman"Dancing Mouse"
1959 You Bet Your Life Tor Johnson#59-11
1960 Adventures in Paradise Miko"Once Around the Circuit" [32]
"The Lady From South Chicago" [33]
1960 Peter Gunn Bruno"See No Evil" [19]
1960 Bonanza Busthead Brannigan"San Francisco" [34]
1961 Shirley Temple's Storybook The Strongman"Pippi Longstocking" [35]

Related Research Articles

Jason Evers American actor

Jason Evers was an American actor. He was the star of the 1963 ABC Television drama Channing.

<i>The Beast of Yucca Flats</i> 1961 film by Coleman Francies

The Beast of Yucca Flats is a 1961 B-movie horror film written and directed by Coleman Francis. It was produced by Anthony Cardoza, Roland Morin and Jim Oliphant.

Blue Demon Mexican professional wrestler and actor

Alejandro Muñoz Moreno, better known by the ring name Blue Demon, was a Mexican film actor and luchador enmascarado. Blue Demon is considered a legend of lucha libre, partially from starring in a series of Lucha films between 1961 and 1979, often alongside in-ring rival El Santo. His in-ring career began in 1948 and stretched for 41 years until his retirement in 1989.

<i>The Beast with a Million Eyes</i>

The Beast with a Million Eyes is a 1955 independently made American black-and-white science fiction film, produced and directed by David Kramarsky, that stars Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, and Dona Cole. Some film sources have said that the film was co-directed by Lou Place. The film was co-produced by Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff. and was released by American Releasing Corporation, which later became American International Pictures.

Kathleen Worth was a British actress who played Shop Assistant in Coming Home, she has also been in The Bill, Casualty, Jemima Shore Investigates, The Lakes, Lovejoy, Grange Hill, City Central, and Dalziel and Pascoe.

Jerry Warren was an American film director, producer, editor, screenwriter, cinematographer, and actor. Warren grew up wanting to get into the film business in Los Angeles, California. He appeared in small parts in a few 1940s films such as Ghost Catchers, Anchors Aweigh, and Unconquered.

Stuart Eugene Galbraith IV is an American film historian, film critic, essayist, and audio commentator.

<i>The Glory Brigade</i> 1953 film by Robert D. Webb

The Glory Brigade is a 1953 American war film directed by Robert D. Webb. It stars Victor Mature and Alexander Scourby.

Harold "Hal" Erickson is a media historian who was a senior editor at AllRovi for 15 years starting in 1994 when it was known as "All Movies". He has also written several books relating to the history of movies and television as well as many media articles for Encyclopædia Britannica. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A list of reference works on the horror genre of film.

Florence Marly

Florence Marly was a Czech-born French film actress. During World War II, Marly moved to neutral Argentina with her Jewish husband, film director Pierre Chenal, where she appeared in several films. She also acted in two of her husband's films while they were in Chile.

When G-Men Step In is a 1938 American action film, directed by Charles C. Coleman and starring Don Terry, Julie Bishop, and Robert Paige. It released by Columbia Pictures.

Chris Markoff is a Yugoslav-American retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with professional wrestling promotions in the Midwestern United States in the 1960s.

Tetsu Nakamura, born Satoshi Nakamura, was a Japanese film actor and opera singer active from the 1940s to the 1980s. He featured in over 40 films.

Walter Futter was a film producer and director in the United States. After an initial career cutting and editing films, Futter began writing and producing his own shorts and movies, often using footage he acquired. He had success with Africa Speaks!, a popular movie, which combined Paul L. Hoefler's footage filmed in the field, staged scenes filmed in Los Angeles, and narration by Lowell Thomas. He produced more than 250 short films, including series of shorts entitled Walter Futter's Traveloques and Walter Futter's Curiosities. Hoot Gibson starred in a number of his western films. Another of his more than 50 longer films was Jericho, also called Dark Sands.

Dolores Rousse was an American film actress who performed under the name Gloria Roy later in her career.

References

  1. Thorsell, Elisabeth. "Tor Johnson Genealogy". Rötters Anbytarforum (in Swedish). Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0426363/bio
  3. Raw, Lawrence (2012). Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960. McFarland & Company. pp. 117–119. ISBN   978-0786444748.
  4. MacDonald, Heidi (23 November 2011). "Gift Guide: Drew Friedman's new Tor Johnson print". ComicsBeat.
  5. Lentz, Harris M., III (2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 176. ISBN   978-0786417544.
  6. Stephens, E.J. (5 April 2009). "Cinema history 'lives on' at Eternal Valley". B. The Signal. 93 (95). Santa Clarita, California: Ian Lamont. pp. 1, 4 via Newspapers.com.
  7. Sonnenberg, Maria (27 July 2014). Stover, Bob (ed.). "The Animal pins problems to the mat". Florida Today. 49 (133). Cocoa, Florida: Jeff Kiel. p. 5E via Newspapers.com.
  8. Friedman, Drew; Friedman, Josh Alan (30 April 2012). Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental. Fantagraphics Books. pp. 4, 21–36. ISBN   978-1-60699-521-1.
  9. Friedman, Drew (1 January 2007). The Fun Never Stops!: An Anthology of Comic Art 1991–2006. Fantagraphics Books. p. 17. ISBN   978-1-56097-840-4.
  10. III, Harris M. Lentz (1 January 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 176. ISBN   978-0-7864-1754-4.
  11. 1 2 Fetrow, Alan G. (1 August 1992). Sound films, 1927-1939: a United States filmography. McFarland. pp. 331, 339. ISBN   978-0-89950-546-6.
  12. Alicoate, Chas A. (8 August 1935). "Short Shots". The Film Daily. 68 (33). New York, N.Y.: John W. Alicoate. p. 11 via Internet Archive.
  13. Kann, Maurice, ed. (7 December 1935). "Short Subjects". Motion Picture Daily. 38 (134). New York, N.Y.: Martin Quigley. p. 4 via Internet Archive.
  14. 1 2 King Hanson, Patricia, ed. (1999). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures: Feature Films, 1941-1950. 3: Film Entries M-Z. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 1952,2137.
  15. Fetrow, Alan G. (1 January 1994). Feature Films, 1940-1949: A United States Filmography . McFarland. p.  302. ISBN   978-0-89950-914-3.
  16. Dettman, Bruce; Bedford, Michael (1976). The Horror Factory: The Horror Films of Universal, 1931 to 1955. Gordon Press. p. 176. ISBN   978-0-87968-443-3.
  17. Institute, American Film (1999). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures produced in the United States. Feature Films, 1941 - 1950. 1: Film Entries, A–L. University of California Press. p. 367. ISBN   978-0-520-21521-4.
  18. Mielke, Randall G. (1997). Road to Box Office: The Seven Film Comedies of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, 1940-1962. McFarland & Company. p. 73. ISBN   978-0-7864-0162-8.
  19. 1 2 Freese, Gene (15 September 2017). Classic Movie Fight Scenes: 75 Years of Bare Knuckle Brawls, 1914–1989. McFarland. p. 92. ISBN   978-1-4766-2935-3.
  20. King Hanson, Patricia, ed. (1999). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures: Feature Films, 1941-1950. 2: Film Entries M-Z. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 1952. ISBN   978-0520215214.
  21. Wax, Mo, ed. (5 May 1952). "'The San Francisco Story' OK Gun & Fist Stuff". Film Bulletin. 20 (9). Mo Wax. p. 8 via Internet Archive.
  22. Parsons, Louella O., ed. (16 November 1952). "The New Films". The State Journal. 98 (202). Lansing, Michigan: Federated Publications. p. 37 via Newspapers.com.
  23. Fetrow, Alan G. (1999). Feature Films, 1950-1959: A United States Filmography. McFarland. p. 191. ISBN   978-0-7864-0427-8.
  24. Neibaur, James L.; Okuda, Ted (1995). The Jerry Lewis films: an analytical filmography of the innovative comic. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 92. ISBN   978-0-89950-961-7.
  25. Daniel, Blum (1969) [1957]. Screen World. 8. New York, N.Y.: Biblo & Tannen. p. 32. ISBN   0819602639.
  26. "The Tor Top Ten". The Astounding B Monster. The Astounding B Monster. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  27. "Mystery Science Theater 3000, Season 3". Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  28. Vaile, Edward, ed. (27 December 1953). "Today's Best TV Programs Previewed". Iowa TV Guide. The Des Moines Register. 105 (190). Des Moines, Iowa. p. 1 via Newspapers.com.
  29. Gianakos, Larry James (1 January 1980). Television Drama Series Programming: A Comprehensive Chronicle, 1947-1959. Scarecrow Press. p. 359. ISBN   978-0-8108-1330-4.
  30. Lentz, Harris M. (2001). Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits: Television shows. McFarland. p. 1845. ISBN   978-0-7864-0952-5.
  31. Lucanio, Patrick; Coville, Gary (1998). American Science Fiction Television Series of the 1950s: Episode Guides and Casts and Credits for Twenty Shows. McFarland. p. 171. ISBN   978-0-7864-0434-6.
  32. Leibfried, Philip; Lane, Chei Mi (17 August 2010). Anna May Wong: A Complete Guide to Her Film, Stage, Radio and Television Work. McFarland. p. 169. ISBN   978-1-4766-0932-4.
  33. Chan, Anthony B. (8 February 2007). Perpetually Cool: The Many Lives of Anna May Wong (1905-1961). Scarecrow Press. p. 294. ISBN   978-1-4616-7041-4.
  34. Leiby, Bruce R.; Leiby, Linda F. (31 May 2012). A Reference Guide to Television's Bonanza: Episodes, Personnel and Broadcast History. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN   978-1-4766-0075-8.
  35. Noyes, Mike (4 December 2008). "Bride of the Monster - DVD Review". Inside Pulse.