George Clayton Johnson has Died
By Bonnie King
(SALEM, Ore.) - The illuminating, exoterical, astronomical George Clayton Johnson has died. The genius science-fiction writer behind so much of what we’ve all watched and enjoyed has passed on to his next adventure.
George Clayton Johnson wrote the very first episode of Star Trek, The Man Trap; he wrote eight original Twilight Zone episodes for series creator Rod Serling including "Nothing in the Dark", "Kick the Can", "A Game of Pool", and "A Penny for Your Thoughts".
In 1960, while he was one of the proprietors of Cafe Frankenstein (seen as sort of a "den of iniquity" by the uptight) in Laguna Beach, California, he sold the first story he ever wrote. That story served as the basis for the movie Ocean's 11, he even wrote the original screenplay.
He joined the Southern California School of Writers that included Theodore Sturgeon, William F. Nolan, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury (whom he credits with having made him believe in himself as a writer). And through these fine folks, he met Rod Serling.
“Serling’s Twilight Zone scripts are, in a word, surreal,” Johnson said in a 2006 interview. “As an art form, surrealism tries to banish the distinction between the real and the unreal to provide an infinite expansion of reality.
“The Twilight Zone played just as much a part in the renaissance transformation of The Sixties as bright-colored clothing, rock music and marijuana did. It helped to jack people up to a higher level.”
George is perhaps most well-known for the 1967 science fiction classic, Logan's Run, which he co-wrote, it was a box-office hit and an Oscar winning film for MGM in 1976; and he also wrote for TV shows including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Route 66, The Law and Mr. Jones and Kung Fu.
A free soul for life, he often spent time with Jack Herer, the Emperor of Hemp, and Captain Ed Adair. Together they smoked a lot of marijuana, and traversed galaxies, as they expanded their inner horizons.
I met and interviewed George Clayton Johnson in 2010, at Jack Herer's funeral. He spoke during the ceremony, and mentioned the relevance of wishing on a star, which he believed in. George found depth and relevance in the common elements of life, and he meant to share what he could, at all times.
George was present when Jack Herer and Captain Ed made their historic pact to “to work every day to legalize marijuana and get all pot prisoners out of jail, until we were dead, marijuana was legal, or we could quit when we turned 84. We wouldn't have to quit, but we could,” Jack Herer said.
An outgoing advocate for the legalization of marijuana, George is said to have smoked weed all day, every day, well into his 80’s.
George Clayton Johnson was a pleasure to speak with, and gave me the best compliment of my professional career. He said, "I was hoping to meet you, you are a writer of the highest order." Wow. He definitely knew just what to say.
Those that spent the time with him recently commented that he was always sharp as a tack, eloquent to the end.
He co-created the comic book series Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology with cartoonist and author Jay Allen Sanford (Revolutionary Comics), and appeared at recent Comic conventions. He had so much to give, and knew better than to waste his chance.
“For me, fantasy must be about something, otherwise it's foolishness... ultimately it must be about human beings, it must be about the human condition, it must be another look at infinity, it must be another way of seeing the paradox of existence.”
— George Clayton Johnson quoted in The Twilight Zone Companion
"I want to be remembered as a person who early on in his life took control of his life and set goals. When people gave me a lined paper, I wrote the other way. When people expect some certain behavior from me, I will frustrate their expectations."
— George Clayton Johnson
“He’s dead, Jim.” (said Bones)
— George Clayton Johnson, first aired episode of STAR TREK.
RIP George, I wish I'd known you better.
JOHNSON, George Clayton
Born: 7/10/1929, Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.A.
Died: 12/22/2015, North Hills, California, U.S.A.
George Clayton Johnson’s western – screenwriter:
Kung Fu (TV) – 1974