Many years ago, this actor was pushed into making a very big sacrifice by the studio as well as by those around him.

This was done to save the career of another actor who was embroiled in a potentially career ending scandal.

He was very important to the studio.

These events are now common knowledge.

The actor who made the sacrifice came from an acting family.

He had a long career everything from second banana in classic comedies and musicals to horror films to Disney films.

In his later years, he did a lot of TV.

Also in his later years he was often cast as an angry sputtering old man.

His sacrifice was not without its perks.

For a number of years, those that were grateful would send young starlets to him and he would have se.x with them.

He slept with several who would later be stars themselves and who are still alive.

Two prominent ones – This star of several successful sitcoms who pitches medical products and this actress who played a famous fictional character on TV.

That same character is currently enjoying a film reboot.

Keenan Wynn

Another actor: Van Johnson

Star of several successful sitcoms: Suzanne Somers

famous fictional character on TV: Lynda Carter – Wonder Woman

Studio: MGM


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Evie Wynn Johnson

Although initially a stage actress under her real name, Eve Abbott, Evie Wynn Johnson is best remembered as the former wife of the actors Keenan Wynn and Van Johnson.

Eve Abbott, actress: born Buffalo, New York 1914; married 1939 Keenan Wynn (two sons; marriage dissolved 1947; died 1986), 1947 Van Johnson (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1968); died Lauderdale Lakes, Florida 19 July 2004.

Although initially a stage actress under her real name, Eve Abbott, Evie Wynn Johnson is best remembered as the former wife of the actors Keenan Wynn and Van Johnson.

The marriages were the subject of much publicity and rumour in the Forties since, before marrying Evie, Johnson had been a best friend of the Wynns. Many of his fans were alienated when he married Evie the day after her divorce from Wynn, while those who were aware of Johnson’s sexual ambivalence wondered how genuine the marriage could be.

In 1999, when Evie was bitter and near poverty, she finally stated that MGM had persuaded her to marry Johnson, one of their top stars of the Forties. “They needed their ‘big star’ to be married to quell rumours about his sexual preferences,” she said, “and unfortunately, I was ‘It’ – the only woman he would marry.” – Source

Behind the facade of Van Johnson

Near the end of “The Caine Mutiny” (1954) there’s a startling close-up of Van Johnson in which his pronounced facial scars from a 1943 car accident, so carefully hidden by studio makeup artists for so many years, are revealed more fully than they’d ever been on screen.

Johnson’s role isn’t major in “The Caine Mutiny,” but the project was among the most prestigious he landed during the postwar era. It came a little more than a decade after the eternally boyish actor with the ginger-colored hair and ultrafair complexion — he used to crack that he got paid by the freckle — rose to screen fame during wartime. The bobby-soxers screamed over him. Even though he could dance well and sing all right, they called him “the voiceless Sinatra.” Thanks to films such as “A Guy Named Joe” and “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” he became huge.

But by the time of “The Caine Mutiny,” when his star had fallen, getting out from underneath his usual scar-concealing makeup may well have been a relief.

Johnson died a week ago at 92, and most of the obituaries ignored the part of his life spent largely behind another kind of facade. Some stories alluded to a “difficult” marriage. There’s enough on the record by now that we do a disservice to Johnson, and to the studio system that built his image, if we leave it at that.

Like Rock Hudson, Johnson — according to his ex-wife — was pressured by studio bosses into a marriage tailored to the image maintenance of a well-liked movie star. Hours after divorcing character actor Keenan Wynn, an old friend and fellow MGM contract player of Johnson’s, Evie Wynn married Johnson in 1947. They had one daughter. They separated around the time Johnson, according to The Independent newspaper of London, among other sources, had an affair with a male dancer in the London company of “The Music Man,” which starred Johnson as Professor Harold Hill. Johnson and Wynn Johnson divorced in 1968.

In 1999, five years before her death, Johnson’s ex-wife wrote of MGM: “They needed their ‘big star’ to be married to quell rumours about his sexual preferences.” She characterized MGM chief Louis B. Mayer as someone with “the ethics and morals of a cockroach,” and said Mayer put it to her plainly: “Unless I married Van Johnson, he wouldn’t renew Keenan’s contract. I was young and stupid enough to let Mayer manipulate me.” – Source

Van Johnson: The Gay Boy Next Door

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you may be wondering why the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre will devote the evening of Feb. 26 to screen two movies as a tribute to someone called Van Johnson, an old-time actor who died at 92 in Nyack, NY, last Dec. 13.

Well, though hardly remembered nowadays, the tall, red-headed, freckle-faced Van Johnson was a major box office attraction in the United States in the second half of the 1940s. In mid-decade, while MGM’s Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, James Stewart, Robert Montgomery, and others were embroiled in the war overseas, Johnson rose from the ranks of MGM’s B-unit to (briefly) become the studio’s biggest male attraction.

His meteoric rise almost didn’t happen. A serious car accident as he and best friends Keenan and Evie (Abbott) Wynn were on their way to a screening at MGM was to leave the former Broadway chorus boy away from the studio for months (and out of World War II for good). Among other injuries, Johnson suffered a fractured skull and had bone fragments piercing his brain. He was left with a severely scarred forehead and a metal plate several inches long on the left side of his head.

Once healed, however, nothing could keep him away from romantic entanglements with June Allyson, Esther Williams, Lana Turner, and other MGM leading ladies – much to the delight of the bobby-soxers of the period. (Johnson’s scar was carefully hidden by the make-up department; however, it’s clearly visible in the 1954 court-martial drama The Caine Mutiny, in which Johnson plays a somewhat unsympathetic character.) – Source

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