This tall, dark and handsome stage actor became the film industry's first matinee idol, as well as working as a director and screenwriter. Johnson ran away from military school to join the theatrical...
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
|The Way of a Man||Actor||n/a||7|
|The Adventures of Dollie||1908||Actor||Father||19087|
|Small Time Crooks||2000||Song||("Cocktails for Two")||1|
|Sugar Town||1999||Song||("Dead Melly")||1|
|Signed with Lubin as actor, director and screenwriter|
|Film debut, "The Adventures of Dollie"|
|Under contract to Biograph|
|Stage debut, as Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet"|
Johnson stayed with Biograph for three years, co-starring in scores of one-reelers with Mary Pickford, Florence Lawrence, Mack Sennett, Henry B. Walthall and other company stock players. He had ambitions to write and direct, though, and because that did not sit well with Griffith, Johnson decamped in 1911 for Philadelphia's Lubin company, where he stayed for the rest of his career.
Lubin allowed Johnson to write and direct, as long as he agreed to act as well, usually opposite Lottie Briscoe or fellow Biograph refugee Florence Lawrence. In 1911 and 1912 alone, Johnson and Lawrence made 48 films together. By 1915, the hard-working jack-of-all-trades was in poor health (due to over-work, alcoholism, or tuberculosis, depending on the source) and had to take frequent leaves of absence from the studio. "I have been working very hard for the past few years and have needed a vacation," he said in 1915. "The doctors told me this some time ago, but it's hard for me to keep away from the studio." Johnson was only 39 when he died in 1916.
|Florence Hackett||Wife||survived him; born 1882, died 1954|
|Albert Hackett||Step-Son||survived him|
|Raymond Hackett||Step-Son||survived him|
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