On This Day in Newport History: Van Johnson, Actor and Dancer, Was Born in Newport on August 25, 1916

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Van Johnson, a popular Hollywood star in the ’40s and ’50s with such films as “30 Seconds over Tokyo,” “A Guy Named Joe” and “The Caine Mutiny,” was born on August 25, 1916 in Newport, RI.

He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on Aug. 25, 1916, in Newport, R.I., where his father was a real estate salesman. From his earliest years he was fascinated by the touring companies that played in Newport theaters, and after high school he announced his intention to try his luck in New York. He arrived in 1934 with $5 and his belongings packed in a straw suitcase.

Van Johnson and Judy Garland in “In the Good Old Summertime”

 

Johnson became a popular Hollywood star in MGM movies during the World War II years with such films as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy.

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Johnson starred opposite Esther Williams, June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor and others during his two decades under contract to MGM.

He proved to be a versatile actor, equally at home with comedies (“The Bride Goes Wild,” “Too Young to Kiss”), war movies (“Go for Broke,” “Command Decision”), musicals (“Thrill of a Romance,” “Brigadoon”) and dramas (“State of the Union,” “Madame Curie”).

Johnson died in December 2008 at the age of 92 in New York.

 

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