Tor Johnson

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Tor Johnson
PlanNine 10.jpg
Johnson in Plan 9 from Outer Space , 1959
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

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.


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]


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]



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


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]

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