Tor Johnson

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Tor Johnson
PlanNine 10.jpg
BornTor Johansson
(1903-10-19)19 October 1903
Sweden
Died12 May 1971(1971-05-12) (aged 67)
San Fernando, California, U.S.
Other namesSuper Swedish Angel
Thor Johnson
OccupationWrestler, actor
Years active1934–1961
 
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Tor Johnson
PlanNine 10.jpg
BornTor Johansson
(1903-10-19)19 October 1903
Sweden
Died12 May 1971(1971-05-12) (aged 67)
San Fernando, California, U.S.
Other namesSuper Swedish Angel
Thor Johnson
OccupationWrestler, actor
Years active1934–1961

Tor Johansson (19 October 1903 – 12 May 1971), better known by the stage name Tor Johnson, was a Swedish professional wrestler (billed as The Super Swedish Angel) and actor.[1]

Biography[edit]

Johnson was born in Sweden, the son of Karl J. Johansson and Lovisa Petersson. He weighed 181 kilograms (400 pounds) at his heaviest. He had a full head of blond hair, but he shaved it to maintain an imposing, villainous appearance in wrestling and acting appearances. He began getting bit parts in movies upon his move to California - usually as the strongman or weightlifter - as early as 1934. His film career ended in the early 1960s after appearing in a string of poorly-rated movies. However, he continued to make appearances on television and made a number of commercials.[2]

Tor Johnson in The Beast of Yucca Flats, two years after Plan 9; he also appears heavier

During his career as an actor, Johnson befriended director Edward D. Wood, Jr., who directed him in a number of films, most notably Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space, both which co-starred Bela Lugosi. He was very friendly to work with on movie sets, and actress Valda Hansen, who worked with Johnson in 1959's Night of the Ghouls (also directed by Wood), described him as "like a big sugar bun."[3] During this period, Tor also 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. Groucho ran off the stage in mock terror, then returned and, after teasing Johnson again, pleaded, "Don't make that face again!"

In 1971, Johnson died at the San Fernando Valley Hospital in San Fernando, California, from heart failure. He was buried at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California.

Legacy[edit]

In the 1970s, a Halloween mask of Johnson was created and sold by famous Hollywood maskmaker Don Post.[4]

In the 1980s, Johnson became a featured character in the comics of Drew Friedman.[5]

In 1994, Johnson was portrayed in director Tim Burton's film, Ed Wood, about cult director Edward D. Wood, Jr., by the wrestler, George "The Animal" Steele.

In 2005, Johnson and the Plan 9 cast were lampooned in an episode of the television series, Deadly Cinema, and clips of this episode were featured in the documentary, Vampira: The Movie.[6]

Filmography[edit]

Film
YearFilmRoleNotes
1934Registered NurseSonnevichUncredited
Kid MillionsTorturer
1935Man on the Flying TrapezeTosoff
1936Under Two FlagsBidou
1941Shadow of the Thin ManJack the Ripper
1943The Meanest Man in the WorldVladimir Pulasky
Swing Out the BluesWeightlifter
1944Ghost CatchersMug
The Canterville GhostBold Sir Guy
Lost in a HaremMajordomo
1945SudanSlaver
1947Road to RioSandor
1948State of the UnionWrestler
Behind Locked DoorsThe Champ
1950Abbott and Costello in the Foreign LegionAbou Ben
The Reformer and the RedheadGuest at Finnish-American RallyUncredited
1951The Lemon Drop KidSuper Swedish Angel
Dear BratUncredited
Angels in the OutfieldWrestler on TV
1952The San Francisco StoryBuck
Lady in the Iron MaskRenacUncredited
1953HoudiniStrong man
1955Bride of the MonsterLoboAlternative title: Bride of the Atom
1956CarouselStrongmanUncredited
The Black SleepMr. CurryAlternative title: Dr. Cadman's Secret
1957Journey to FreedomGiant Turk
The UnearthlyLobo
1959Night of the GhoulsAlternative title: Revenge of the Dead
Plan 9 from Outer SpaceInspector Daniel ClayFormer title: Grave Robbers from Outer Space
1961The Beast of Yucca FlatsJoseph Javorsky/The Beast
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1953–1954You Are There2 episodes
1954General Electric TheaterBald-headed Man1 episode
Rocky Jones, Space RangerNaboro
1956The Adventures of Hiram HollidayBandini the Strongman
1960Adventures in ParadiseMiko in "Once Around the Circuit"
Peter GunnBruno
BonanzaBusthead Brannigan
1961Shirley Temple's StorybookStrong Man

References[edit]

External links[edit]