Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

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The Blackbird

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Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostTue Feb 20, 2018 8:25 pm



Van Johnson visits David Letterman, remembers Gable, Mayer, Tracy, and acts very strange in general...
Last edited by silentfilm on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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maliejandra

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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 21, 2018 6:52 am

Oh the saga... Van Johnson is one of my all-time favorites so it pains me a bit to see him as the butt of the joke, but I think this is a perfect (and funny) example of the differences between generations.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 21, 2018 9:11 am

The Blackbird wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htac6gYbPRU" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Van Johnson visits David Letterman, remembers Gable, Mayer, Tracy, and acts very strange in general...


I think perhaps Mr. Johnson got a little too relaxed in the Green Room beforehand.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 21, 2018 12:44 pm

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:
The Blackbird wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htac6gYbPRU" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

Van Johnson visits David Letterman, remembers Gable, Mayer, Tracy, and acts very strange in general...


I think perhaps Mr. Johnson got a little too relaxed in the Green Room beforehand.


A lot of people acted peculiarly on talk shows (and still do), so I agree that his stream of consciousness behaviour was the result of too many beverages of a certain kind before the show. As he was starring in a Broadway musical at the time - which requires all the mental acuity and discipline one possesses - all of his marbles must have been in place. He gave a great performance in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, and I had dinner with him and some friends around that time (a Chinese restaurant as I remember) and he was very pleasant and sharp. Call it talk show-itis, I suppose.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 21, 2018 3:47 pm

Van Johnson is one of my favorites too. I think he's pretty funny on this show. His flashing of his suit lining and socks (both red-a trademark of his) is just him doing his shtick. I don't think he's been drinking. The morning before a performance? Doesn't jibe with his reputation. He lived to the ripe old age of 92, unlikely for someone with a drinking problem. "This is an old suit of Keenan Wynn's. Play with that one for a minute folks." If you don't know what he's referring to Google it. He's being snarky and I think he's just having fun. The YouTube comments that think no one knew who he was in 1985 are ridiculous. People old enough to be studio audience members in 1985 grew up with his movies on TV when you had maybe 5 TV channels to watch, and he made "131 movies." The applause at his entrance proves that. The later use of his appearance-I doubt he even knew about it and I'm guessing he wouldn't have cared. He was a show business survivor.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 6:15 am

I had figured the whole thing was some kind of performance art, similar to the famous (and stunning) Oliver Reed interview with Letterman a couple of years later. If you haven't seen it, you haven't lived...

Last edited by silentfilm on Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 8:01 am

Oliver Reed was on a few live chat shows in the UK.There was the infamous Aspel show when he was staggering drunk,a Friday night live youth show where he sang,if that's the word,wild thing and a supposedly serious literary late night show where he drank all then wine,insulted all the ladies and finally staggered off.He wasn't on TV much after that,can't think why.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 1:16 pm

Lamar wrote:"This is an old suit of Keenan Wynn's. Play with that one for a minute folks." If you don't know what he's referring to Google it.

Is this what he's referring to? I'd watch it.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 3:27 pm

Back around the '80's Van Johnson used to be a frequent visitor to Oz. I think that whenever he got a bit bored he hopped on an aeroplane and headed south. Anyway, he appeared regularly on talk shows and was quite popular. He was a good raconteur ready with some good stories.

He would not have been the only person to have emerged tired and emotional from the Green Room prior to getting their head on the box. I can well remember Peter O'Toole utterly relaxed and peppering his conversation with the magic "f" word at a time when such utterance was a definite no-no. How Mr. O'Toole remained vertical to achieve the walk-on to set remains a mystery.

Television award nights were another case in point. It must have been a mark of absolute wisdom to have allowed the tables of guests to be supplied with copious quantities of whatever firewater was a favourite. How the whole thing didn't descend into an out and out shambles is one of those amazing dilemmas - although one or two did come across the worse for wear when having to make an acceptance speech or give an introduction.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostFri Feb 23, 2018 4:41 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Lamar wrote:"This is an old suit of Keenan Wynn's. Play with that one for a minute folks." If you don't know what he's referring to Google it.

Is this what he's referring to? I'd watch it.


Johnson was probably making a sly reference to the fact that he married Keenan Wynn's wife, Evelyn, in January 1947. The unusual circumstances of the union are discussed in a number of places online.

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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostSat Feb 24, 2018 6:56 am

Harold Aherne wrote:
s.w.a.c. wrote:
Lamar wrote:"This is an old suit of Keenan Wynn's. Play with that one for a minute folks." If you don't know what he's referring to Google it.

Is this what he's referring to? I'd watch it.

Johnson was probably making a sly reference to the fact that he married Keenan Wynn's wife, Evelyn, in January 1947. The unusual circumstances of the union are discussed in a number of places online.

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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostMon Feb 26, 2018 7:42 am

If you're interested in reading about his personal life, I recommend Ned Wynn's book We Will Always Live in Beverly Hills: Growing Up Crazy in Hollywood https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2057118.We_Will_Always_Live_in_Beverly_Hills?from_search=true which doesn't always paint the family in a glowing light, but it is pretty entertaining and informative.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 28, 2018 12:02 am

David Letterman was an incredibly ignorant and smug interviewer. I remember Cher calling him an "A-e" in the middle of an interview, and it was clear she meant it. Whenever a guest was on whom one knew anything about, one could see just how lousy an interviewer he was.

Most of the wit or drollery on display was usually attributable to his well paid Ivy League writers. The most Letterman could summon up on his own was a kind of self congratulatory, high school snideness. Dave got the best of the scripted lines, but I thought practically everyone else on the show was funnier than he. Even Dave's mom was funnier.

Paul Schaeffer would often comment on a guest with his choice of music the band played when the guest came on or went off. I didn't notice what was played when Van Johnson came on, but as he was dismissed (in all senses of the word) Schaeffer and band played "You Can't Always Get What You Want" - in reference to, among other things, Van's complaints that they were playing too loud.

I wonder how many guests would pick up on what Schaeffer was doing? Musicians, certainly, but actors? I'm not so sure. I remember how once in the late 80's, Schaeffer played another Rolling Stones song, as Brooke Shields strode out from backstage: "Stupid Girl" . My jaw dropped, as Brooke beamed and waved to the cheering audience, as Paul & Co. played over and over the chorus, "Look at that stupid girl!"
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 28, 2018 3:49 am

Since nobody wants to tell the story I will.Keenan Wynn was gay.Johnson was bi.Louis B Mayer told Wynn that if he wanted another contract he would have to divorce his wife and let her marry Johnson.She married Johnson and Wynn got his contract.This is the story put forward in a number of books.Thus the veiled references to it by Johnson.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 28, 2018 7:27 am

I didn't think Keenan Wynn was gay; he was just a drunk and couldn't be controlled. The studio put up the offer to Johnson and Wynn's wife and they ran with it.

Akin to our discussion about abusive parent celebrities, I was kind of put off by reading about all of it for the first time, and it definitely colored my perception of Johnson. There is a part of me that wants to believe the studio hype and think of these people as larger than life figures. But another is so appreciative that we have some of the information. The only thing is I feel somewhat guilty about digging into secrets that they worked so hard to protect. And sometimes it makes me love them more because in the end they were real people just like the rest of us.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 28, 2018 12:50 pm

wingate wrote:Since nobody wants to tell the story I will.Keenan Wynn was gay.Johnson was bi.Louis B Mayer told Wynn that if he wanted another contract he would have to divorce his wife and let her marry Johnson.She married Johnson and Wynn got his contract.This is the story put forward in a number of books.Thus the veiled references to it by Johnson.



What on earth?

I almost expected the riff to run on, "Keenan Wynn was gay. Johnson was bi. Louis B. Mayer was pedophilic ..."

Keenan Wynn was not gay, Van Johnson was gay. Mr. Mayer, to safeguard one of his top box office attractions, arranged the marriage to Evie Wynn. Van was put into "The Good Old Summertime" opposite Judy Garland, and Keenan Wynn was given a long lucrative contract as a supporting player. Keenan in his 70 year life married 3 times, and sired 5 children. Van had a sham marriage, and ran off with Evie's tennis instructor.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostWed Feb 28, 2018 10:09 pm

At the Performing Arts Library where I work we have dozens of videos of Gypsy Rose Lee’s TV talk show from the 1960s. (They were donated by Erik Preminger, Gypsy’s son by Otto.) On one episode her guests are Van Johnson and Patsy Kelly. Johnson talks about his pre-Hollywood stage career, and Gypsy shows some home movie footage of the original 1940 production of Pal Joey, which featured Van with her sister June Havoc.

Although Johnson comes off better here than he does with Letterman, I have to say he still doesn’t come off especially well. Even allowing for the egotism typical of performers he seems very full of himself, and overbearing. Every time Patsy tries to speak, he interrupts her. Towards the end he mentions a stage musical he was in, turns to Kelly in an aside and says: “You should’ve been in that show.” She snaps back: “I should’ve been in this show!”
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Laurents on Johnson;Van does a PSA

PostThu Mar 01, 2018 8:37 am

ImageImage
Last edited by JFK on Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Van Johnson on Late Night 1985

PostThu Mar 01, 2018 10:23 am

I attended the Mary Martin memorial at the Majestic Theater circa 1990. Van Johnson was among the speakers, and he was the only one who talked more about himself than about Martin!

:lol:

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