Arthur V. Johnson

Arthur Vaughan Johnson (February 2, 1876 – January 17, 1916) was a pioneer actor and director of the early American silent film era.

Arthur Vaughan Johnson
Johnson in 1915
Born(1876-02-02)February 2, 1876
DiedJanuary 17, 1916(1916-01-17) (aged 39)
Other namesArthur Johnson
Film director
Years active1905–1915
Spouse(s)Maude Webb, Florence Hackett(?)

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Rev. Myron A. Johnson,[1] Arthur Vaughan Johnson left college at 19 to join a traveling Shakespearean troupe. He later appeared on stage with Sol Smith Russell, Robert B. Mantell and Marie Wainwright.[2] Johnson began as a film actor in 1905 with the Edison Studios in The Bronx, New York, appearing in the one-reel drama The White Caps directed by Wallace McCutcheon, Sr., and Edwin S. Porter. In 1908, he went to work for Biograph Studios, where he acted in films directed by D.W. Griffith including Resurrection (1909) and In Old California (1910), the first movie Griffith ever shot in Hollywood. At Biograph, Arthur Johnson performed with stars such as Mary Pickford and Florence Lawrence. Johnson was reputed to be Griffith's favorite actor.

In 1911 he accepted an offer from Lubin Studios in Philadelphia that allowed him to direct as well as act. With Lottie Briscoe, his frequent co-star at Lubin, Johnson directed and starred in The Belovéd Adventurer (1914), a 15 episode serial by Emmett Campbell Hall.[3] After performing in more than three hundred silent film shorts and directing twenty-six, health problems ended his career in 1915.

According to an interview published nine months before his death, Arthur V. Johnson married actress Maude Webb when he was 20 years old; the couple had a daughter who lived with Johnson's parents.[4] Other sources indicate that around 1910 he married Florence Hackett, with whom he appeared in the 1913 film Power of the Cross.[5][6] He died of tuberculosis in Philadelphia in 1916, a few weeks short of his fortieth birthday. Johnson's funeral services were held in Philadelphia and his remains later interred at Fairview Cemetery, Chicopee, Massachusetts. Nearby stands Grace Episcopal Church, where his father once served as rector.[7][8]

Selected filmography


  1. "Former Lubin Star Dies in Philadelphia", The Washington Herald (Washington, D. C.), January 19, 1916, p. 6. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. "A. V. Johnson Dead; Famous 'Movie' Star Made Millions Laugh", Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), January 18, 1916, p. 15. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  3. Hall, Emmett Campbell, The Belovéd Adventurer, 1914. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  4. Solomon, Irene Page, "A Little Visit to the Home of Arthur Johnson", Photo-Play Review, May 11, 1915, p. 3.
  5. Goodrich, David L., The Real Nick and Nora: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Writers of Stage and Screen Classics, SIU Press, 2004, p. 27. ISBN 978-0-8093-2602-0.
  6. Golden, Eve, Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars, McFarland, 2000, pp. 61–64. ISBN 978-0-7864-8354-9.
  7. "Arthur V. Johnson, 'Movies' Star Dead", The Washington Times (Washington, D. C.), January 18, 1916, p. 7. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  8. Journal of the Seventy-Third Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1866, p. 161. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
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