Born July 30th, 1927 – Died June 5th, 2015
Two of my all time favorite films: Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979), which are about as two different films that you could get. And this man, Richard Johnson, stars in both of them. I think I actually saw The Haunting on television one night at my future wife’s house, watching it with her and her mom, amazed at how creepy this old black and white film was. Then finding out that this suave and distinguished gentleman was also the same actor who played Dr. Menard in one of the greatest zombie films ever committed to film! Boggles the mind.
While Johnson had attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, performing with John Gielgud’s company before joining the navy in 1945. After the war, he was back to acting before making his film debut in the early ’50s. He was actually offered the role of James Bond in Dr. No, before Sean Connery, but turned it down because he didn’t want to be stuck in a 7-year contract! While he really didn’t appear in a ton of horror films, half-dozen or so that he did appear in, he was always memorable and entertaining. Besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, some of my favorites of his work are Beyond the Door (1974) and Island of the Fishmen (1979), but there are a few more gems in there for you to do a little research on if you’re not entirely sure of Johnson’s other work.