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
OccupationProfessional wrestler, 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
OccupationProfessional wrestler, 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]

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in Sweden, the son of Karl J. Johansson and Lovisa Petersson.

Career[edit]

Johnson in The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Johnson weighed 181 kilograms (400 pounds) at his heaviest. He had a full head of blond 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.[2]

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. 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".[3] 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[edit]

In 1971, Johnson died from heart failure at the San Fernando Valley Hospital in San Fernando, California. 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 Hollywood maskmaker Don Post.[4] In the 1980s, Johnson became a featured character in the comics of Drew Friedman.[5] Johnson was portrayed by wrestler George "The Animal" Steele in Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood. In 2005, Johnson and the Plan 9 cast were lampooned in an episode of the television series Deadly Cinema. Several films in which Tor appeared, including Bride of the Monster and The Beast of Yucca Flats, would be riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Tor's first appearance in each film was often gleefully announced by Joel/Mike and the Bots.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

YearFilmRoleNotes
1934Registered NurseSonnevichUncredited
1934Kid MillionsTorturerUncredited
1935Man on the Flying TrapezeTosoffUncredited
1936Under Two FlagsBidouUncredited
1941Shadow of the Thin ManJack the RipperUncredited
1943The Meanest Man in the WorldVladimir PulaskyUncredited
1943Swing Out the BluesWeightlifterUncredited
1944Ghost CatchersMugUncredited
1944The Canterville GhostBold Sir GuyUncredited
1944Lost in a HaremMajordomoUncredited
1945SudanSlaverUncredited
1947Road to RioSandorUncredited
1948State of the UnionWrestlerUncredited
1948Behind Locked DoorsThe ChampUncredited
1950Abbott and Costello in the Foreign LegionAbou Ben
1950The Reformer and the RedheadGuest At Finnish-American RallyUncredited
1951The Lemon Drop KidSuper Swedish Angel
1951Dear BratUncredited
1951Angels in the OutfieldWrestler On TVUncredited
1952The San Francisco StoryBuck
1952Lady in the Iron MaskRenacUncredited
1953HoudiniStrong ManUncredited
1955Bride of the MonsterLobo
1956CarouselStrongmanUncredited
1956The Black SleepMr. Curry
1957Journey to FreedomGiant Turk
1957The UnearthlyLobo
1959Night of the GhoulsLobo
1959Plan 9 from Outer SpaceInspector Daniel Clay
1961The Beast of Yucca FlatsJoseph Javorsky / The Beast

Television[edit]

YearFilmRoleNotes
1953–1954You Are There2 episodes
1954General Electric TheaterBald Man1 episode
1954Rocky Jones, Space RangerNaboro1 episode
1956The Adventures of Hiram HollidayBandini the Strongman1 episode
1960Adventures in ParadiseMiko in "Once Around the Circuit"1 episode
1960Peter GunnBruno1 episode
1960BonanzaBusthead Brannigan1 episode
1961Shirley Temple's StorybookStrong Man1 episode

References[edit]

External links[edit]