Donald Wayne Johnson (born December 15, 1949) is an American actor, producer, director, singer, and songwriter. He played the role of James "Sonny" Crockett in the 1980s television series Miami Vice, winning a Golden Globe for his work in the role. He also had the eponymous lead role in the 1990s cop series Nash Bridges. He has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Johnson was the American Power Boat Association's 1988 World Champion of the Offshore World Cup.
Don Johnson in 1989
Donald Wayne Johnson
December 15, 1949
Flat Creek, Missouri, U.S.
(m. 1968; annulled 1968)
(m. 1973; annulled 1973)
(m. 1976; div. 1976)
(m. 1989; div. 1996)
|Partner(s)||Patti D'Arbanville (1981–1985)|
|Children||5, including Jesse and Dakota|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Acting
- 3 Music
- 4 World Championship Powerboat Racing
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Reception
- 7 Filmography
- 8 Discography
- 9 Videography
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Donald Wayne Johnson was born December 15, 1949, in Flat Creek, Missouri, to Nell (née Wilson), a beautician, and Wayne Fred Johnson, who was a farmer. At the time of his birth, Johnson's mother and father were 17 and 19 years old, respectively. Johnson was raised in poverty in Wichita, Kansas, where his parents relocated when he was six years old.
He graduated from Wichita South High School, where he was involved in the high school's theater program. As a senior, he played the lead role of Tony in West Side Story. His biography noted that he had previously appeared in "Burnt Cork and Melody" and "The Hullabaloo." After graduating from high school in 1967, he enrolled at the University of Kansas as a theater major, but dropped out after one year. He subsequently relocated to San Francisco, California to attend the American Conservatory Theater.
Johnson's first major role was in the 1969 Los Angeles stage production of Fortune and Men's Eyes, in which he played Smitty, the lead role. This exposure led to the quickly forgotten film The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970, based on a novel by Robert T. Westbrook, son of columnist Sheilah Graham). He continued to work on stage, film and television without breaking out into stardom. His notable films from this period were Zachariah (1971), The Harrad Experiment (1973), Lollipop and Roses (1974), and A Boy and His Dog (1975). In 1976, Johnson was roommates with actor Sal Mineo when Mineo was murdered outside their West Hollywood, California apartment.
From 1984 to 1989, after years of struggling to establish himself as a TV actor (in such fare as Revenge of the Stepford Wives), and a string of pilots, none of which became a TV series, Johnson landed a starring role as undercover police detective Sonny Crockett in the Michael Mann / Universal Television cop series, Miami Vice. The Sonny Crockett character typically wore thousand-dollar Versace and Hugo Boss suits over pastel cotton T-shirts, drove a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona (really a replica kit on a 1981 Corvette chassis), followed by a Ferrari Testarossa, wore expensive timepieces by Rolex and Ebel, and lived on a 12-metre (40 ft) (later a 42-foot [13 m]) Endeavour yacht with his pet alligator, Elvis. Miami Vice was noted for its revolutionary use of music, cinematography, and imagery and its glitzy take on the police drama genre. In the show, his partner was Ricardo Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas. Between seasons, Johnson gained further renown through several TV miniseries, such as the 1985 TV remake of The Long, Hot Summer.
Johnson later starred in the 1996–2001 CBS-TV police drama Nash Bridges with Cheech Marin, Jeff Perry, Jaime P. Gomez, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as his daughter Cassidy, James Gammon as Nick Bridges, Nash's father and Wendy Moniz. Johnson portrayed the title role of Nash Bridges, an inspector (later promoted to captain) for the San Francisco Police Department. In Nash Bridges Johnson was again paired with a flashy convertible car, this time a killer Yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda.
In the fall of 2005, he briefly starred in The WB courtroom television drama show Just Legal as a jaded lawyer with a very young and idealistic protégé/partner (Jay Baruchel); the show was canceled in October 2005 after just three of the eight produced episodes aired. In January 2007, Johnson began a run in the West End of London production of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit.
Johnson also has a role in the Norwegian comedy Lange Flate Ballær 2 ("Long Flat Balls II"), directed by Johnson's friend Harald Zwart. Johnson did the movie as a favor to Zwart. The movie was launched March 14, 2008 in Norway, with Johnson making an appearance at the premiere. He next appeared in When in Rome with Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston, and Kristen Bell.
In October 2010, he began appearing on the HBO series Eastbound & Down, playing Kenny Powers' long-lost father, going by the alias "Eduardo Sanchez". He also reprised his role as Sonny Crockett for a Nike commercial with LeBron James where the NBA player contemplates acting and appears alongside Johnson on Miami Vice.
Johnson released two albums of pop music in the 1980s, one in 1986 and the other in 1989. His single "Heartbeat" reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was the title track from his first album, and was a collaboration with Robert Tepper. Previously, Johnson worked with Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, co-writing the songs "Blind Love" and "Can't Take It with You" with Dickie Betts, which appeared on their 1979 album, Enlightened Rogues. B.B. King and Jules Taub co-wrote the song "Blind Love"; the Allmans covered it. There is no writer's credit to confirm he co-wrote "Can't Take It with You". "Till I Loved You" was the title track (a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100) of a studio album released on October 25, 1988 on Columbia Records. The song was a duet with then-girlfriend Barbra Streisand. The song was re-released on the Streisand album Duets in 2002.
World Championship Powerboat RacingEdit
In 1986 Johnson scored his first motor sport victory, a 1,100-mile powerboat race, New Orleans to St. Louis, up the Mississippi River. Characterized by shipmates as an aggressive, fearless pilot who did not make mistakes, Johnson was crowned World Powerboat Champion in 1988. Johnson's celebrity status substantially elevated the profile of powerboat racing worldwide, and the breadth, extent, and granularity of his technical involvement sparked a burst of scholarship in the sport, as Johnson proved instrumental in pioneering advanced V-shaped hull and twin hull technologies.
Relationships and familyEdit
Johnson has had four wives in five marriages, three of which were brief. His first two marriages were annulled within a matter of days. The names of Johnson's first two wives have not been made public, though they were said to have been a dancer and a "rich bimbo". In the early 1970s, Johnson lived with groupie Pamela Des Barres. During the first half of 1972, he met Melanie Griffith, the 14-year-old daughter of his Harrad Experiment co-star Tippi Hedren. When Griffith was 15, she and Johnson began living together in a rented house in Laurel Canyon. On her 18th birthday they became engaged, and were married in January 1976; they filed for divorce that July. They reunited and conceived a daughter close to the start of 1989, Dakota Johnson (born October 4, 1989) and were married again from that year until 1996.
In 1980 he dated Sally Adams, who had been Telly Savalas's partner, and used the name Sally Savalas, the mother of actress Nicollette Sheridan. Cybill Shepherd has written of a liaison with Johnson in her autobiography.
Johnson lived with actress Patti D'Arbanville from 1981 to 1985. The couple has a son, Jesse Wayne Johnson (born December 7, 1982). A 1989 description of the couple's life in the 1980s said,
...[On] Jan. 17, 1981, ... D'Arbanville ... met Johnson at an L.A. restaurant. "I saw this gorgeous guy," she says, "and I ran after him. saying, 'Hey you.' It turned out to be Donny. I said, 'So, Donny, how many times have you been married?' He said, 'Three.' I said, 'Say hello to No. 4.'...." Johnson ditched his date, Tanya Tucker, and spent the night with Patti. "One month later," she says, "I was pregnant." The couple planned to marry that fall, but D'Arbanville changed her mind. "I didn't see the point," she says. "Besides, there were areas in which we didn't get along." Drinking was one of them. Shortly after becoming pregnant, Patti sobered up. "Donny didn't," she says "[and] we grew further apart." ... Johnson eventually stopped drinking with D'Arbanville's help.... Miami Vice took Johnson to Florida in 1984, and the couple split a year later....
On April 29, 1999, he married San Francisco socialite and Montessori nursery school teacher Kelley Phleger, then 30, at the Pacific Heights mansion of Ann and Gordon Getty. Actor Robert Wagner served as best man, and Mayor Willie Brown presided over the civil ceremony. Johnson and Phleger have three children together: a daughter, Atherton Grace Johnson (born December 28, 1999), and two sons, Jasper Breckinridge Johnson (born June 6, 2002), and Deacon Johnson (born April 29, 2006).
In November 2002, German customs officers at the Swiss–German border performed a routine search of Johnson's car. Bank statements evidencing US$8 billion in transactions were found in the trunk of his car. He was accompanied in his black Mercedes-Benz by three men: an investment adviser, a personal assistant, and a third unknown individual who could not be identified. Initially it was thought Johnson was involved in money laundering, but he was cleared of wrongdoing.
In July 2010, a Los Angeles jury awarded Johnson $23.2 million in a lawsuit against production company Rysher Entertainment, from whom Johnson sought a share of profits commensurate with his ownership of half the copyright of Nash Bridges. Rysher announced it would appeal the verdict. In January 2013, after recalculating interest and avoiding an additional appeal, Rysher paid Johnson $19 million to end the lawsuit.
Awards and recognitionsEdit
|1975||Winner||Saturn Award||Best Actor||A Boy and His Dog|
|1985||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Miami Vice|
|1986||Winner||Golden Globe Awards||Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama|
|1987||Nominated||Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama|
|1988||Won||APBA Offshore World Cup||Superboat class|
|1996||Awarded||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame|
|1970||The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart||Stanley Sweetheart|
|1973||The Harrad Experiment||Stanley Cole|
|1974||Lollipops, Roses and Talangka||Franky||1st Filipino movie|
|1975||A Boy and His Dog||Vic|
|1975||Return to Macon County||Harley McKay|
|1978||Swan Lake||Benno (voice)||English version|
|1981||Soggy Bottom, U.S.A.||Jacob Gorch|
|1982||Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp||Wazir's Son (voice)||English version|
|1985||Cease Fire||Tim Murphy|
|1987||G.I. Joe: The Movie||Lieutenant Vincent R. Falcone/Lt. Falcon (voice)|
|1988||Sweet Hearts Dance||Wiley Boon|
|1989||Dead Bang||Jerry Beck|
|1990||The Hot Spot||Harry Madox|
|1991||Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man||Robert Anderson/The Marlboro Man|
|1993||Born Yesterday||Paul Verrall|
|1993||Guilty as Sin||David Edgar Greenhill|
|1996||Tin Cup||David Simms|
|1998||Goodbye Lover||Ben Dunmore|
|2007||Moondance Alexander||Dante Longpre|
|2008||Long Flat Balls II||Admiral Burnett|
|2008||Torno a vivere da solo||Nico|
|2010||When in Rome||Mr. Martin||Uncredited|
|2010||Machete||Lt. Von Jackson|
|2011||Four Loko Vineyards||Mr. Four Loko||Online short film|
|2011||A Good Old Fashioned Orgy||Jerry Keppler||Uncredited|
|2011||Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star||Miles Deep|
|2012||Django Unchained||Spencer "Big Daddy" Bennett|
|2014||Cold in July||Jim Bob Luke|
|2014||The Other Woman||Frank Whitten|
|2015||Alex of Venice||Roger|
|2017||Vengeance: A Love Story||Jay Kirkpatrick|
|2017||Brawl in Cell Block 99||Warden Tuggs|
|2018||Dragged Across Concrete||Lt. G. Calvert|
|2019||Knives Out||Richard Drysdale-Thrombley|
|1971||Serge||Deloy Coopersmith||Episode: "The Combatants"|
|1972||Young Dr. Kildare||Ted Thatcher||Episode: "House Call"|
|1972||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Ev Howard||Episode: "Endtheme"|
|1973||Kung Fu||Nashebo||Episode: "The Spirit-Helper"|
|1974||The Rookies||Al Devering||Episode: "The Teacher"|
|1976||The Streets of San Francisco||Officer Larry Wilson||Episode: "Hot Dog"|
|1976||Barnaby Jones||Wayne Lockwood||Episode: "Renegade's Child"|
|1976||Law of the Land||Quirt||Television film|
|1977||The City||Sergeant Brian Scott||Television pilot film|
|1977||Cover Girls||Johnny Wilson||Television film|
|1977||Nashville 99||Mike Watling||Episode: "Sing Me a Song to Die By"|
|1977||Eight Is Enough||Doug||Episode: "Trial Marriage"|
|1977||Big Hawaii||Gandy||Episode: "Gandy"|
|1977||Police Story||Lee Morgan||Episode: "Trigger Point"|
|1978||What Really Happened to the Class of '65?||Edgar||Episode: "Class Crusader"|
|1978||The American Girls||Everett Simms||Episode: "A Crash Course in Survival"|
|1978||Pressure Point||Television film|
|1978||Ski Lift to Death||Mike Sloan||Television film|
|1978||The Two-Five||Charlie Morgan||Television film|
|1978||Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold||Gunther||Television film|
|1978||First, You Cry||Daniel Easton||Television film|
|1979||Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill||Cowboy||Television film|
|1979||The Rebels||Judson Fletcher||Miniseries|
|1980||Beulah Land||Bonard Davis||Miniseries|
|1980||Revenge of the Stepford Wives||Officer Andy Brady||Television film|
|1980||From Here to Eternity||Private Jefferson "Jeff" Davis Prewitt||13 episodes|
|1981||Elvis and the Beauty Queen||Elvis Presley||Television film|
|1981||The Two Lives of Carol Letner||Bob Howard||Television film|
|1982||Matt Houston||Terry Spence||Episode: "The Woman in White"|
|1983||Six Pack||Brewster Baker||Television pilot film|
|1984–1989||Miami Vice||Detective James "Sonny" Crockett||111 episodes|
|1985||Tales of the Unexpected||Reeve Baker||Episode: "People Don't Do Such Things"|
|1985||The Long Hot Summer||Ben Quick||Television film|
|1988; 2015||Saturday Night Live||Himself||2 episodes|
|1990||Seriously...Phil Collins||Himself||Television film|
|1995||In Pursuit of Honor||Sgt. John Libbey||Television film|
|1996–2001||Nash Bridges||Inspector/Captain Nash Bridges||122 episodes|
|2003||Word of Honor||Lt. Benjamin Tyson||Television film|
|2005–2006||Just Legal||Grant H. Cooper||8 episodes|
|2010||WWE Raw||Himself||1 episode|
|2010||Southern Discomfort||Television pilot film|
|2010–2011||Glenn Martin, DDS||Grandpa Whitey (voice)||4 episodes|
|2010–2012||Eastbound & Down||Eduardo Sanchez Powers||5 episodes|
|2011||A Mann's World||Allan Mann||Television pilot film|
|2014–2015||From Dusk till Dawn: The Series||Sheriff Earl McGraw||5 episodes|
|2015||Blood & Oil||Hap Briggs||10 episodes|
|2016||TripTank||Johnny Bahama (voice)||Episode: "The Director"|
|2017||A Series of Unfortunate Events||Sir||2 episodes|
|2017||Sick Note||Kenny West|
|2018||LA to Vegas||Jack Silver||Episode: "Jack Silver"|
|2018||Daddy Issues||Roman||Television film|
|2019||Watchmen||Chief Judd Crawford||Main role|
|2019||Japanese Drama In Hand||Callaway||episode 5|
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|Let It Roll||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|1987||"Voice on a Hotline"||—||—||—||—||—||59||—||—||—||—|
|1989||"Tell It Like It Is"||—||13||—||6||2||6||—||—||6||84||Let It Roll|
|"Other People's Lives"||—||—||—||46||57||53||—||—||—||—|
|"A Better Place" (with Yuri)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|Year||Single||Artist||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1988||"Till I Loved You"||Don Johnson and Barbra Streisand||25||34||22||26||4||16||Till I Loved You|
- 1987: Heartbeat - Full Length Video (VHS) - (Release date: May 10, 1987)
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