Tor Johnson

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Tor Johnson
PlanNine 10.jpg
Born Karl Erik Tore Johansson
(1902-10-19)19 October 1902
Brännkyrka, Stockholms län, Sweden
Died 12 May 1971(1971-05-12) (aged 68)
San Fernando, California, U.S.
Other names Super Swedish Angel
Thor Johnson
Occupation Professional wrestler, actor
Years active 1934–1961

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.[1] He appeared in many B-movies, including some Ed Wood films.

Early life[edit]

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.[citation needed] His death certificate gives his birth date as Oct 19, 1903.


Johnson in The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

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.[2]

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."[3] 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[edit]

In 1971, Johnson's death is unknown.He was buried at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California.

Johnson was portrayed by wrestler George "The Animal" Steele in Tim Burton's film Ed Wood (1994).

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[edit]

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.



Year Film Role Notes
1934 Registered Nurse Sonnevich Uncredited
1934 Kid Millions Torturer Uncredited
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 Ghost Catchers Mug Uncredited
1944 The Canterville Ghost Bold Sir Guy Uncredited
1944 Lost in a Harem Majordomo Uncredited
1945 Sudan Slaver 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 Dear Brat Uncredited
1951 Angels in the Outfield Wrestler On TV Uncredited
1952 The San Francisco Story Buck Uncredited
1952 Lady in the Iron Mask Renac Uncredited
1953 Houdini Strong Man Uncredited
1955 Bride of the Monster Lobo
1955 You're Never Too Young Uncredited
1956 Carousel Strongman Uncredited
1956 The Black Sleep Mr. Curry
1957 Journey to Freedom Giant Turk
1957 The Unearthly Lobo
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)


Year Film Role Notes
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[edit]


External links[edit]