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Dec-23-2015 03:30printcomments

George Clayton Johnson has Died (UPDATED)

EDITOR: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”: George Clayton Johnson died Dec 25, 2015, not the 22nd as previously reported.

George Clayton Johnson
George Clayton Johnson

(SALEM, Ore.) - The illuminating, exoterical, astronomical George Clayton Johnson has died. He was 86. The genius science-fiction writer behind so much of what we’ve all watched and enjoyed has passed on to his next adventure. The cause was cancer, his son, Paul B. Johnson, told the Associated Press.

“As long as people talk about you, you’re not really dead
As long as they speak your name, you continue
A legend doesn’t die just because the man does”
—George Clayton Johnson, “A Game of Pool,” 1961.

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.

“The Fictioneer.” Tribute to GCJ painted by L.J. Dopp

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 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.

Cafe Frankenstein, 1958-62

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.

A gifted writer, philosopher, and believer in the unbelievable, 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.

GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON (July 10, 1929 — December 25, 2015)


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Edward Granados December 27, 2016 2:07 am (Pacific time)

George was my friend he lived in Pacoima and he gave me inspiration to keep writing lyrics and my poetry, he was my most trusted critic and inspiration. We played our songs for him and he liked the song "Time" and my poem 'Love Letters' the man was an artist of lifes pallet! Never will a man with such a vision touch my creative soul and give me such hope in my artistic heart! I love you George Clayton and thankyou..

Eve Lentz December 26, 2015 5:41 pm (Pacific time)

Great tribute to a great man, Bonnie! I talked to George by phone, several times, while Jack Herer was still fighting for his life! George asked me to send him the video, that I had made, of Jack singing "You Are My Sunshine", with me! I loved George's voice! If you ever heard of the expression "He has a twinkle in his eyes", well George has a "Twinkle in his voice"! R.I.P. George! Love you, Bonnie King!🍄

Adam60z December 25, 2015 11:29 am (Pacific time)

New of George's death has been greatly exaggerated.

david garroway December 25, 2015 11:07 am (Pacific time)

I will miss you man! you were and always will be an inspiration to me and my work in science.Thank you for all the encouragement and wisdom you have so generously given me over the years.

Paul Petock December 25, 2015 8:21 am (Pacific time)

George was a great writer and planet activist ! He is missed by many but is remembered by the world .

Terry Morgan December 24, 2015 6:21 pm (Pacific time)

George's son reported this morning that he is STILL alive although in very serious condition and failing fast.

Patrick H December 24, 2015 6:06 pm (Pacific time)

12/24/2015: 3:20 PM Pacific Time – We continue to await further information regarding author George Clayton Johnson as he fights his valiant battle. Merry Christmas, George! WBMT Agency Wait...what's really happened to George?

Patrick H December 24, 2015 5:53 pm (Pacific time)

What a brilliant, dynamic visionary...GCJ will be deeply missed and fondly remembered for the unique insight he shared about the world as it is and as it could be. Rest In Peace George!

Yve L December 24, 2015 12:17 pm (Pacific time)

Not dead, yet. (Dec. 24, 2015) But, this is a beautiful tribute to this wonderful man.

Uwe Sommerlad December 24, 2015 10:37 am (Pacific time)

Well ... did you tell him? From what I heard he's not dead at all.

Anonymous December 24, 2015 6:03 am (Pacific time)

George has not passed as of yet. 12/24/2015: 4:43 AM Pacific Time – Author George Clayton Johnson continues to fight for his life. Please refrain from quoting or sharing social media posts to the contrary. , ......

Anonymous December 23, 2015 8:49 pm (Pacific time)

He's still alive, Bonnie. But may not make it trough the night.

Erik December 23, 2015 8:26 pm (Pacific time)

Actually, he's still alive.

Paul Bens December 23, 2015 6:43 pm (Pacific time)

George has *not* passed away yet. As of 3 hours ago his son reports that he is still fighting but has not passed. Unfortunately, this erroneous report of his death has now enshrined the wrong date in wikipedia and they will not remove it.

Cosmic Brain Trust December 23, 2015 5:09 pm (Pacific time)

Honored by the details of our founding member George Clayton Johnson

Paul Gallagher December 23, 2015 8:37 am (Pacific time)

I was certainly sorry to hear that Mr. Johnson had died. Like so many others, I was a big fan of his writing. What a great talent -- one that you showcased well in this article. One quibble, though. You say that he wrote eight TZ episodes. The actual number is four. There were two additional TZs that were based on stories by him, but scripted by Rod Serling, and one that he wrote and later had his name removed from, but even that adds up to seven. Otherwise, this was a terrific article. Thanks!

Note: December 23, 2015 8:33 am (Pacific time)

Although it is suspected that George Clayton Johnson has passed - this information has not been officially confirmed as of this time.

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