Friday, December 12, 2008

Goodbye to another Screen Legend

Van Johnson, one of my favorite film actors of the 1940s, who played comedy and drama with equal ease, passed from us on Friday, December 12 at the age of 92. My favorite movie of his is perhaps lesser known to many: Warner Bros' Miracle in the Rain (mid 1950s) in which he played a WWII soldier on leave and in a brief love affair with the late Jane Wyman. Most hate the film because of its improbable ending, but Johnson's sense of humor reverberates throughout, making the affair so memorable and touching. In later years he appeared occasionally onstage in such roles as Captain Andy in Showboat and as another Andy in Love Letters with one of his favorite screen partners, the late Janet Leigh. I remember with great fondness a very brief encounter with him, asking him a question about his career and hearing him respond, "That sexy voice! Do you always sound like that?" I don't recall his answer to my question, only that he made me laugh within seconds of meeting him. They say he was a real party boy. Who cares! What a sense of humor onscreen -and, from what I remember - off! God speed!


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