Raymond Edward Johnson
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Johnson started out as a bank teller, and later studied acting at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. Johnson began his career in Chicago, some of his earliest work including a regular role on Edgar A. Guest's dramatic serial Welcome Valley (1932-1937) as Bill Sutter, and was featured on The National Farm and Home Hour in dramatic sketches as the Forest Ranger (a role also played by Don Ameche).
Chicago to New York
While in Chicago, Johnson began working with writer/director Arch Oboler, with roles on his Lights Out series. When both Oboler and Johnson relocated to New York City, the actor was featured in many episodes of Arch Oboler's Plays, notably as the title role in "The Ugliest Man in the World" (repeated five times) and as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in "This Lonely Heart" both from 1939.
While in New York, Johnson landed his most famous role when Himan Brown hired him for Inner Sanctum. From the first broadcast in 1941, Johnson was heard as the series host/narrator, introducing himself as "Your host, Raymond." The "Raymond" character became known for his chilling introductions and morbid puns, and his typical closing, an elongated and ironic "Pleasant dreaaaams, hmmmmmmm?" Johnson departed the series in 1945, when he joined the Army; although replaced for the remainder of the run by Paul McGrath as host, Johnson took the "Raymond" name with him. Johnson later hosted the radio version of the science fiction series Tales of Tomorrow.
In both New York and Chicago, he was a staple on many soap operas, playing romantic leads on the radio version of The Guiding Light (as enigmatic stranger Ellis Smith), 1943's Brave Tomorrow (as Hal Lambert), Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy (as Robert Atwood) and Valiant Lady (as Paul Morrison). His sister, Dora Johnson Remington, was also a soap staple, playing Evey on Ma Perkins.
A prolific performer, Johnson was also heard as Mr. District Attorney in 1939, Roger Kilgore, Public Defender, Calling All Cars, and starred in radio adaptations of the comic strips Don Winslow of the Navy and Mandrake the Magician. Still other radio dramas included appearances on such diverse anthologies as Cavalcade of America, Gangbusters, Dimension X (and its sequel X Minus One), the wartime series Words at War, Famous Jury Trials and Cloak and Dagger.
On stage, Johnson starred as Thomas Jefferson in Sidney Kingsley's Broadway play The Patriots, in 1943. His few on-camera appearances included the role of Alexander Graham Bell in the 1947 film Mr. Bell. Stricken with multiple sclerosis from his forties onward, limiting his activities in later years, Johnson was still a frequent presence at old time radio conventions, performing in recreations and reprising "Raymond", often from a portable bed or wheelchair. He died not long after his 90th birthday.
Johnson was married to radio actress Betty Caine.
- Richard Goldstein (August 16, 2001). "Raymond E. Johnson, Radio Host, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Smith, Ronald L. (2010). Horror Stars on Radio: The Broadcast Histories of 29 Chilling Hollywood Voices. McGarland & Co. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-0-7864-4525-7.
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 111.
- Buxton, Frank and Owen, Bill (1972). The Big Broadcast: 1920-1950. The Viking Press. SBN 670-16240-x. P. 249.
- "What Do You Want to Know?" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror 15 (1): 43. November 1940. Retrieved 13 March 2015.