Nunnally Johnson (Nunnally Hunter Johnson)

Nunnally Johnson

Nunnally Hunter Johnson was born on December 5, 1897 in Columbus, Georgia. He was the first of two sons born to Johnny Pearl “Onnie” (née Patrick) and James Nunnally “Jim” Johnson. He and his younger brother, Cecil Patrick Johnson, were raised in Columbus, Georgia. His father was a journeyman mechanic, turned tinsmith and coppersmith, turned pipe and sheetmetal shop superintendent for the Central of Georgia Railway. Nunnally graduated from Columbus High School in 1915. While living in Columbus in 1919, at 1312 Third Street, Nunnally was a second lieutenant in the field artillery reserve corps. Cecil graduated from Georgia Tech in 1924, married Gene Clair Norris, and moved to Bellingham, Washington, where he was first a gas department superintendent and later a vice-president with Puget Sound Power & Light. He began his career as a journalist, writing for the Columbus Enquirer Sun, the Savannah Press, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and the New York Herald Tribune. He also wrote short stories and a collection of these, There Ought To Be a Law, was published in 1930. His first connection with film work was the sale of screen rights to one of his stories in 1927. Johnson asked his editor if he could write film criticism articles in 1932. When this request was denied, he decided to relocate to Hollywood and work directly in the film industry.

Quickly finding work as a scriptwriter, Nunnally Johnson was hired full-time as a writer by 20th Century-Fox in 1935. He soon began producing films as well and co-founded International Pictures in 1943 with William Goetz. Johnson also directed several films in the 1950s, including two starring Gregory Peck. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and the Directors Guild of America Best Director Award in 1956 for The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. In 1964, Johnson adapted his daughter Nora Johnson’s novel The World of Henry Orient into a film of the same title, starring Peter Sellers. His first marriage, in 1919 at Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights, was to Alice Love Mason, with whom he had one daughter, Marjorie Fowler (film editor, born July 16, 1920). Alice was an editor with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Mason and Johnson divorced in 1920. His second marriage was to Marion Byrnes in 1927, also a staff member of the Daily Eagle, with whom he also had a daughter, Nora Johnson. Byrnes’s and Johnson’s marriage ended in 1938. While filming The Grapes of Wrath, Johnson met his third wife, a fellow southerner, actress Dorris Bowdon, a Mississippi native. The two were married at the home of Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, in Nyack-on-the-Hudson (Nyack, New York), on February 4, 1940. Together they had three children; daughter Christie Johnson Lucero, daughter Roxanna Johnson Lonergan and Johnson’s only son, Scott Johnson. They resided in a mansion located at 625 Mountain drive in Beverly Hills, California. It was designed by architect Paul R. Williams and built from 1937 to 1938 by O’ Neal and Son. He died of pneumonia in Hollywood in 1977 and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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Born

  • December, 05, 1897
  • USA
  • Columbus, Georgia

Died

  • March, 25, 1977
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • pneumonia

Cemetery

  • Westwood Memorial Park
  • Los Angeles, California
  • USA

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