Tor Johnson – actor

tor-as-lobo

Tore Johansson (19 October 1903 – 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 three Edward D. Wood, Jr. films.

Johnson weighed 181 kilograms (400 pounds) at his heaviest. He had a full head of black hair, but shaved it to maintain an imposing and villainous appearance in his wrestling and acting work.

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Terrorising Loretta King in Bride of the Monster (1955)

Tor began getting bit parts in films upon moving to California, usually as the strongman or weightlifter, as early as 1934.

night of the ghouls ed wood

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During his career as an actor, Johnson befriended director Edward D. Wood, Jr., who directed him in a number of films, including Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. He was apparently very friendly to work with, actress Valda Hansen described him as “like a big sugar bun.” 

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Lon Chaney Jr., Tor Johnson and Bela Lugosi enjoy lunch during The Black Sleep (1956)

His film career ended in the early 1960s, after he appeared in a string of poverty row films, with The Beast of Yucca Flats being the nadir as his role required no dialogue. However, Johnson continued to make occasional appearances on television and made a number of commercials.

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!”

In 1971, Johnson died from heart failure at the San Fernando Valley Hospital in San Fernando, California.

In Mad Max (1979), Mel Gibson wears a Tor Johnson mask to cheer up his wife!

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

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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.

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bride of the monster tor johnson attacks bela lugosi

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The Unearthly

Selected filmography:

1944:
Ghost Catchers – Mug
The Canterville Ghost – Bold Sir Guy

1955:
Bride of the Monster – Lobo

Bride-of-the-Monster-DVD

1956:
The Black Sleep – Mr. Curry

1957:

Plan 9 from Outer Space (released 1959) – Inspector Daniel Clay
The Unearthly – Lobo

1958:
Night of the Ghouls (released 1959) – Lobo

nightoftheghouls

1961:
The Beast of Yucca Flats – Joseph Javorsky / The Beast

Beast Yucca Flats DVD

 

3 Comments on “Tor Johnson – actor”

  1. I saw him on an episode of Bonanza. The guys were in San Francisco. Dan Blocker (Hoss) fought Tor in a street fighting match.

  2. Night of the Ghouls is a very underrated movie. It’s one of my faves together with Plan 9 and The Black Sleep.
    Ty Tor for the great horror memories.

  3. Night of the Ghouls is a very underrated movie. It’s one of my graces together with Plan 9 and The Black Sleep.
    Ty Tor for the great horror memories.

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