CHARLES VAN JOHNSON
August 25, 1916 to December 11, 2008
by Katharine Blossom Lowrie
The perennial “guy next door”
Despite his lightweight reputation as the perennial “guy next door” in musicals and comedies of the ’40s and ’50s, Van Johnson (above with Esther Williams in an MGM publicity still ) accrued first-rate reviews for sturdier roles: the values-burdened naval lieutenant who relieves Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) of his command in Edward Dmytryk’s 1954 adaptation of the Herman Wouk novel, “The Caine Mutiny”; Deborah Kerr’s illicit lover in Dmytryk’s 1955 adaptation of Graham Green’s “The End of the Affair,” and a bomber pilot in two WWII films, “A Guy Named Joe” (1943) and “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (1944), in which the one-time chorus boy proved he could hold his own against the formidable Spencer Tracy.
An MGM musical junkie