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Tor Johnson in Plan 9 from Outer Space
|Born||Karl Erik Tore Johansson
19 October 1902
Brännkyrka, Stockholms län, Sweden
|Died||12 May 1971
San Fernando, California, U.S.
|Other names||Super Swedish Angel
|Occupation||Professional wrestler, actor|
Tore Johansson (19 October 1902 – 12 May 1971), better known by the stage name Tor Johnson, was a Swedish professional wrestler (billed as The Super Swedish Angel) and actor. He appeared in many B-movies, including some Ed Wood films.
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Johnson was born in Brännkyrka, Stockholms län, Sweden, the son of Karl Johan Johansson and Lovisa Kristina Pettersson. Later in life, Johnson himself gave varying birth years ranging from 1902 to 1904. His death certificate gives his birth date as Oct 19, 1903.
Johnson weighed 181 kilograms (400 pounds) at his heaviest. He had a full head of brown hair, but shaved it to maintain an imposing and villainous appearance in his wrestling and acting work. He began getting bit parts in films upon moving to California, usually as the strongman or weightlifter, as early as 1934. His film career ended in the early 1960s, after he appeared in a string of poorly-rated films. However, he continued to make appearances on television and made a number of commercials.
During his career as an actor, Johnson befriended director Ed Wood, who directed him in a number of films, including Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. He was very friendly to work with; actress Valda Hansen, who worked with Johnson in 1959's Night of the Ghouls, described him as "like a big sugar bun." During this period, Johnson appeared as a guest contestant on the quiz show You Bet Your Life, during which he showed the show's host, Groucho Marx, his "scariest face." Marx ran off the stage in mock terror, then returned and pleaded: "Don't make that face again!"
Death and legacy
In 1971, Johnson's death is unknown.He was buried at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California.
Johnson was featured extensively in the early work of cartoonist Drew Friedman. The comics supposedly follow Johnson as he becomes involved in various seedy adventures, although he is depicted as a slow-witted, white-eyed lummox based on Johnson's persona in Ed Wood's films.
In popular culture
In the film Mad Max (1979), the title character, played by Mel Gibson, can be seen wearing a Tor Johnson mask in an effort to cheer up his wife, while preparing to leave for a day's work. Numerous films Johnson appeared in would be riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000, his unique appearance making him instantly recognizable to the cast.
|1935||Man on the Flying Trapeze||Tosoff||Uncredited|
|1936||Under Two Flags||Bidou||Uncredited|
|1941||Shadow of the Thin Man||Jack the Ripper||Uncredited|
|1942||Gentleman Jim||The Mauler||Uncredited|
|1943||The Meanest Man in the World||Vladimir Pulasky||Uncredited|
|1943||Swing Out the Blues||Weightlifter|
|1944||The Canterville Ghost||Bold Sir Guy||Uncredited|
|1944||Lost in a Harem||Majordomo||Uncredited|
|1947||Road to Rio||Sandor||Uncredited|
|1948||State of the Union||Wrestler||Uncredited|
|1948||Behind Locked Doors||The Champ||Uncredited|
|1949||Alias the Champ||The Swedish Angel|
|1950||Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion||Abou Ben|
|1950||The Reformer and the Redhead||Guest At Finnish-American Rally||Uncredited|
|1951||The Lemon Drop Kid||Super Swedish Angel|
|1951||Angels in the Outfield||Wrestler On TV||Uncredited|
|1952||The San Francisco Story||Buck||Uncredited|
|1952||Lady in the Iron Mask||Renac||Uncredited|
|1955||Bride of the Monster||Lobo|
|1955||You're Never Too Young||Uncredited|
|1956||The Black Sleep||Mr. Curry|
|1957||Journey to Freedom||Giant Turk|
|1959||Plan 9 from Outer Space||Inspector Daniel Clay|
|1959||Night of the Ghouls||Lobo|
|1961||The Beast of Yucca Flats||Joseph Javorsky / The Beast|
|1968||Head||Guard||(uncredited, Last appearance)|
|1953–1954||You Are There||2 episodes|
|1954||General Electric Theater||Bald Man||1 episode|
|1954||Rocky Jones, Space Ranger||Naboro||1 episode|
|1956||The Adventures of Hiram Holliday||Bandini the Strongman||1 episode|
|1960||Adventures in Paradise||Miko in "Once Around the Circuit"||1 episode|
|1960||Peter Gunn||Bruno||1 episode|
|1960||Bonanza||Busthead Brannigan||1 episode|
|1961||Shirley Temple's Storybook||Strong Man||1 episode|
Championships and accomplishments
- Midwest Wrestling Association (Kansas City)
- NWA Rocky Mountain
- New York Times
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