Rita Johnson

Rita Ann Johnson (August 13, 1913[1][2] – October 31, 1965) was an American actress.[3]

Rita Johnson
Johnson in the trailer for Stronger Than Desire, 1939
Rita Ann Johnson

(1913-08-13)August 13, 1913
DiedOctober 31, 1965(1965-10-31) (aged 52)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California
Years active19351957
Stanley Kahn
(m. 1940; div. 1943)

Edwin Hutzler
(m. 1943; div. 1946)

Early years

Johnson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of a single mother, Lillian Johnson.[4]

She worked as a waitress in her mother's lunchroom and sold hot dogs on the Boston-Worcester turnpike.[5] She later attended the New England Conservatory of Music.


Early in her career, Johnson was busy in radio. "By 1936 she ... was appearing in ten radio shows a week."[5] She played the leading role in Joyce Jordan, M.D..[6]

Johnson began acting on Broadway in 1935 and started her film career two years later. She played a murderer in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) and a doomed wife in the RKO film noir They Won't Believe Me (1947).[7]

Johnson suffered injuries (attributed to a falling hair dryer) to her head and legs September 6, 1948, requiring brain surgery,[8] causing her film career to come to a near complete stop. A newspaper article three years afterward reported, "It took her a year to recover. Her left side was paralyzed temporarily, and for a while she couldn't walk."[9] Her screen time in movies after that was limited due to her reduced mobility and powers of concentration. She also suffered from alcoholism from the time of her injuries until her death of a brain hemorrhage on October 31, 1965, at age 52.[7]

Personal life

Johnson was married to businessman L. Stanley Kahn.[4] They were granted a divorce on June 29, 1943.[10] She married, secondly, to Edwin Hutzler from 1943 to 1946, but that marriage also ended in divorce.[7]

Partial filmography

Radio appearances

1943Lux Radio TheatreMy Friend Flicka[11]
1952Family TheaterThe Crossroads of Christmas[12]


  1. Parish gives year of birth as 1912, but her grave marker says 1913.
  2. Parish, James Robert; Bowers, Ronald L. (1974). The MGM Stock Company: The Golden Era'. Allan. p. 379. ISBN 0-7110-0501-X.
  3. "Rita Johnson". BFI. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  4. "Rita Johnson Near Death From Hair Drier Blow". The Post-Standard. September 11, 1948. p. 1. Retrieved June 8, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  5. Weinstock, Matt (August 13, 2013). "The Booby-Trapped Life of Rita Johnson". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  6. "What's New from Coast to Coast" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (1): 8–9, 80. May 1940. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  7. Rita Johnson on IMDb
  8. "Film Star Succumbing To Mystery Injuries". The Evening News. September 10, 1948. p. 1. Retrieved June 8, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  9. "Rita Johnson Battles for Comeback Movie Roles". The Times. June 11, 1952. p. 17. Retrieved June 8, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  10. "Divorce Granted to Rita Johnson". The Milwaukee Journal. June 29, 1943. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  11. "Lux Theatre Guest". Harrisburg Telegraph. Harrisburg Telegraph. June 5, 1943. p. 17. Retrieved December 23, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  12. Kirby, Walter (December 21, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved June 8, 2015 via Newspapers.com.

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