Gerald MacIntosh Johnston

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Actor Gerald MacIntosh Johnston (1 October 1904- 5 November 1944), known professionally as Gerald Kent, was a Canadian Broadway stage and film actor who was captured at the Dieppe Raid during the Second World War and died in a German POW camp.

Early life[edit]

Gerald MacIntosh Johnston was born on October 1, 1904, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to James Macintosh Johnston and Clare Maud Mckay Johnston.[1][2][3] He attended St. John's College before relocating to New York City in the United States in 1923.[4][5] Johnston lived with his parents in New York,[2][6] where he worked as a commercial model and in a stock company.[5] Johnston had two uncles in Scotland.[5]

Stage and film career[edit]

While in New York Johnston began acting in local theater productions. He took the stage name Gerald Kent and appeared in numerous productions on and off Broadway. One of his first works was the production Brass Buttons.[7] In 1928 producer Jed Harris offered Johnston a part in his Broadway production of The Royal Family.[5] The following year Johnston played the leading man opposite Mae West in Diamond Lil,[4][6][8] which had a run at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco and Biltmore Theatre in Los Angeles.[9] In the credits of Berthold Viertel's 1934 film Little Friend Gerald Kent is listed as the Butler.[10]

World War II and death[edit]

Shortly after World War II broke out in Europe Johnston returned to Canada and joined the Canadian military.[2][5][11] He served in the first battalion of the The Black Watch of Montreal as a private; he later joined the commandos under Lord Louis Mountbatten,[2][3][11] and in September 1940 Johnston deployed to England.[8] In 1941, while stationed with his unit in Britain, Johnston landed a role in the film From the Four Corners, which starred Leslie Howard. Johnston played a character based on himself, Private J. Johnston, who was a member of The Black Watch of Canada regiment.[11][12] The next year the Black Watch of Montreal participated in the disastrous Dieppe Raid on 19 August 1942. Johnston’s status was unknown for months after the battle and he was listed as missing in action, until it was finally reported in December that he had been captured.[13] Johnston, along with thousands of other Canadians captured at Dieppe, was transferred to Stalag II-D Prisoner-of-war camp located near Stargard in the Baltics. On November 5, 1944, Johnston was caught attempting to escape and was shot dead by guards after following their command to raise his hands.[11][14][15] In January, 1945 the Sunday Pictorial, published out of London, reported that Johnston’s death occurred during a mass escape of 1,500 Canadian P.O.W’s.[16] Several days later the Toronto Daily Star rebuked this story, calling it pure “fabrication” and the “figment of someone’s imagination.” [17]

Johnston’s remains are buried in the Heverlee War Cemetery in Belgium.[2]

Stage performances[edit]

  • October–November 1933 - A Divine Drudge at Royale Theatre in New York. Role: Kid Pauker.[20]
  • June–December 1932 - That's Gratitude at Waldorf Theatre in New York. Role: Clayton Lorimer.[21]
  • February 1932 - New York to Cherbourg at Forrest Theatre in New York. Role: Floyd Warren.[23]
  • December 1927 - Brass Buttons at Bijou Theatre in New York. Role: Kid Dickson. [7]


  1. ^ "Vital Statistics". Consumer and Corporate Affairs A Division of Manitoba Finance:. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Casualty Details: Johnston, Gerald Macintosh". CWGC. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Winnipeg-Born Actor Now in Black Watch" (PDF). Winnipeg Tribune. 25 January 1940. p. 2. 
  4. ^ a b c "Winnipeg man in prison break". Leader-Post. 9 January 1945. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Edwin Johnson (7 October 1940). "Gerald Kent Overseas" (PDF). Winnipeg Evening Tribune. 
  6. ^ a b "A Canadian Contingent Includes Mae West's Ex-Leading Man". Geraldton Guardian and Express. 5 November 1940. p. 4. 
  7. ^ a b "Brass Buttons". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  8. ^ a b "More Canadians Land". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 5 September 1940. Note:Johnston is inncorrectly named "Jerry Johnstone" in the article. 
  9. ^ a b Leider, Emily Worth (2000). Becoming Mae West. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 201. ISBN 9780306809514. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Cast of Current Photoplays". Photoplay: 122–123. January 1935. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e “JOHNSTON, ACTOR, DIES !” New York Times (1857-Current file ); Nov 24, 1944; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2003) pg. 23. Hennepin County Public Library, Minneapolis. 29 November 2006.
  12. ^ "From the Four Corners". IMDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  13. ^ “Dieppe Casualties” The Globe and Mail; Dec 22, 1942; Democracy at War: Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War. Canadian War Museum pg. 23. 19 June. 2007.
  14. ^ Johnston’s obituary states that he died on the fourth of November, but his grave stone states that he died on the fifth of November.
  15. ^ Vance, Jonathan F. (1994). Objects Of Concern: Canadian Prisoners Of War Through The Twentieth Century. VANCOUVER: UBC PRESS. p. 161. ISBN 0-7748-0504-8. 
  16. ^ "Ottawa Can't Confirm Break of 1,500 Canadians.". Toronto Daily Star. 8 January 1945. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  17. ^ "No break out tried. No Canadians killed.". Toronto Daily Star. 11 January 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  18. ^ "Iron Men". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  19. ^ "Arrest That Woman". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  20. ^ "A Divine Drudge". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  21. ^ "That's Gratitude". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  22. ^ "Angeline Moves In". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  23. ^ "New York to Cherbourg". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  24. ^ "That's Gratitude". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  25. ^ "Bond Players open at East Islip Tuesday, June 25" (PDF). The Suffolk County News. 21 June 1929. p. 12. 
  26. ^ "The Royal Family". IBDB. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 

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