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George Clayton Johnson (1929 - 2015)

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George Clayton Johnson (1929 - 2015)

George Clayton Johnson, the legendary science fiction author and screenwriter for "The Twilight Zone, "Star Trek" and many other television shows, died Christmas Day of cancer in Los Angeles, according to The Associated Press. He was 86.

Johnson was born July 10, 1929, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He served as a telegraph operator in the U.S. Army and, upon his discharge, studied drafting in college before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked for the Lockheed aviation company.

While working as a draftsman, Johnson moonlighted as a writer, selling stories to Playboy magazine and writing a story that became an episode of the anthology TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." During this time, he befriended writers such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, who introduced Johnson to Rod Serling, creator of "The Twilight Zone."

Johnson went on to write seven episodes of the science fiction anthology show, including "Kick the Can" (1962). This episode about elderly residents in a retirement home recapturing their youth was later remade as part of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983) by director Steven Spielberg.


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During the early 1960s, Johnson also wrote the story for what became the Frank Sinatra Rat Pack movie "Ocean's 11." The film about a group of former paratroopers who rob Las Vegas casinos was later remade in 2001.

Johnson also has the distinction of writing the first broadcast episode of "Star Trek." Titled "The Man Trap," it was the only episode he wrote for the series, but it was the public's first glimpse of the crew of the USS Enterprise.

In 1967, he co-wrote the novel "Logan's Run" with William F. Nolan. The story - about a society that kills everyone when they reach age 21 and the man who must enforce this law - became an Oscar-nominated film in 1976 starring Michael York.

Johnson was a regular at science fiction conventions where he would interact with his fans.

"He had a special place in his heart for all of his fans, who sustained him and gave him a forum to share thoughts at a million miles a second," his son, Paul Johnson, told Reuters.

"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 Johnson told the Archive of American Television in a 2003 interview.

In addition to writing, Johnson also appeared onscreen as an actor on TV's "Sea Hunt" and several feature films, most recently, "Saint Bernard" (2013).

Johnson is survived by his wife, Lola Johnson, son Paul Johnson, daughter Judy Olive and a half-sister.

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