1940s Star Van Johnson Dead at 92

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2008 7:11 PM CST
In this Jan. 7, 1985 file photo, actor Van Johnson is shown backstage at the Palace Theatre in New York.   (AP Photo/Mario Suriani, file)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Former film and TV heartthrob Van Johnson died today in New York of natural causes, Variety reports. He was 92. Johnson starred in many movies in the 1940s and 1950s, and was later nominated for an Emmy for his appearance on the TV show Rich Man, Poor Man. Dubbed the "non-singing Sinatra," the wholesome star married only once—a union that ended in what he called "the ugliest divorce in Hollywood history."

After a short stint with Warner Bros., Johnson was about to abandon Hollywood when Lucille Ball introduced him to MGM's casting director. Johnson was badly injured in a 1943 car accident, but recovered to star in three or four MGM movies a year. His long career extended into the 1980s, when he acted in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo and in the Broadway production of La Cage Aux Folles.