Sunday, December 27, 2015

Godspeed George Clayton Johnson

George Clayton Johnson, who co-wrote the novel Logan's Run and wrote classic episodes  of The Twilight Zone, died on December 25 2015 at the age of 86. The cause was cancer.

George Clayton Johnson was born on July 10 1929 outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. His parents separated when he was young and as a result much of his childhood was spent with other relatives. He left school when he was in the eighth grade. From 1946 to 1949 he served in the United States Army as a telegrapher and later a draughtsman. He studied architecture at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) and worked for a time as a draughtsman.

In the early Fifties Mr. Johnson moved to Los Angeles. His first work in television was the episode of "I'll Take Care of You" for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It aired in 1959. With John Golden Russell he developed the story for the film Ocean's 11 (1960). His short story "All of Us Are Dying" was adapted by Rod Serling as the Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying". Rod Serling adapted another one of George Clayton Johnson's short stories as the episode "Execution" for the the show. Mr. Johnson would go on to write four episodes of The Twilight Zone himself, including the classic "Kick the Can".

In the Sixties George Clayton Johnson also wrote episodes of the shows Route 66, The Law and Mr. Jones, Mr. Novak, Honey West, and Star Trek (the first episode of the show aired on NBC, in fact). He co-wrote the 1962 animated short "Icarus Montgolfier Wright" with Ray Bradbury, based on Mr. Bradbury's short story of the same name.  He wrote several short stories during the decade, and co-wrote the novel Logan's Run with William F. Nolan.

In the Seventies Mr. Johnson wrote an episode of Kung Fu, as well as several more short stories.  He co-wrote the short film "The Jungle of Jules Levine" (2015).

George Clayton Johnson also appeared in front of the camera. In 1961 he guest starred on the TV show Sea Hunt. He appeared in the films The Intruder (1962), The Boneyard Collection (2008), Crustacean (2009), and Saint Bernard (2013).

George Clayton Johnson was a talented writer and certainly one with considerable range. While he was often counted as a science fiction writer, it must be pointed out that he also wrote non-genre material, including the story for Ocean's 11 and episodes of Route 66 and Mr. Novak. His work often had depth, with philosophical underpinnings. He also tended to often address mortality in his work. This was seen not only in Logan's Run, but in the Twilight Zone episodes "Kick the Can" and "Nothing in the Dark". More than anything else, however, Mr. Johnson was capable of creating characters of considerable depth. His stories and TV episodes were always driven more by character than plot. It is for that reason he will be remembered as a writer.

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