Best known for his starring role as Det. Sonny Crockett on the hugely successful TV series "Miami Vice" (1984), Don Johnson is one of the stars who really defined the 1980s. As James "Sonny" Crockett he went toe-to-toe with drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, assassins, illegal arms-dealers and crooked cops on a weekly basis from 1984 to 1989, appearing in a grand total of 110 episodes. The show, which was executive-produced by four time Oscar-nominated director, producer and writer Michael Mann, paired Johnson with the equally cool Philip Michael Thomas as Det. Ricardo Tubbs and the calm and stoic presence of Edward James Olmos as Lt. Martin Castillo. It revolutionized television with its modern fashion, pop music, unique style and use of real locations. Johnson typically wore $1000 Armani, Versace and Hugo Boss suits over pastel cotton T-shirts, drove a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona (later a Ferrari Testarossa) and lived on an Endeavour 42-foot sailboat named "St. Vitus' Dance" with his pet alligator Elvis. He also had full use of an offshore powerboat. Still, "Miami Vice" had not only style but substance, and his portrayal of the Vietnam veteran turned vice detective turned Sonny Crockett into the world's favorite cop. For his work on "Miami Vice" Johnson won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series in 1986, and was nominated in the same category a year later. He also picked up an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1985.
Johnson was born in Flat Creek, Missouri, the son of a farmer and a beautician. As a kid he wanted to become a professional bowler. Later, after a few brushes with the law at a young age, he discovered acting. After working on the stage for a while he ventured into films and television, but was not able to break into stardom despite, among other things, starring in the sci-fi cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975). During the late 1960s and early 70s, Johnson had two short-lived marriages that were annulled; the names of his first two wives have never been made public. Tippi Hedren, Johnson's co-star in The Harrad Experiment (1973), allowed him to date her daughter Melanie Griffith despite the fact that she was only 14 and he was 22; the relationship culminated in a six-month marriage during 1976. In the 1980s he lived with actress Patti D'Arbanville and they had one son together. He remarried Griffith in 1989, but divorced in 1996 when she left him for Antonio Banderas. Johnson has been married to fifth wife Kelly Phleger since 1999, and they have three children together.
Johnson starred in four failed TV pilots before landing his career-high role on "Miami Vice", which propelled him to superstardom. He directed four highly praised episodes of the show, one of them co-starring Melanie Griffith. He balanced his work on the series by appearing in the critically acclaimed TV film The Long Hot Summer (1985) (TV), an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams novel, and the film Sweet Hearts Dance (1988) with Susan Sarandon. After the series ended he focused solely on his film career. Although movies like Dead Bang (1989), The Hot Spot (1990) and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) did not fare well with the critics, quite a few of them have obtained a considerable cult following, with fans praising them as all being quality contributions to their genre. His film work has given Johnson the opportunity to work with legendary filmmakers like John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper.
After working steadily, Johnson returned to TV in 1996 with the cop show "Nash Bridges" (1996). The show, which Johnson created and produced, did very well. It co-starred Cheech Marin and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. Johnson played the title role, a captain in the San Francisco PD's Special Investigations Unit. He was again paired with a flashy vehicle, this time an electric-yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible. After "Nash Bridges" went off the air Johnson kept a low profile, but continues to appear in films and on television. He starred in the failed WB courtroom drama "Just Legal" (2005), which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and has traveled to Europe to make such films as the Norwegian screwball comedy Long Flat Balls II (2008) and the Italian films Bastardi (2008) and Torno a vivere da solo (2008). He will soon be seen in the romantic comedy When in Rome (2010) with Anjelica Huston and Danny DeVito, as well as the indie comedy A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011). 'Don Johnson (I)' starred in the 2007 feature film, _"Moondance Alexander" (2007)_, along with Lori Loughlin, Kay Panabaker, James Best, Sasha Cohen, and Whitney Sloan.
|Kelley Phleger||(29 April 1999 - present) 3 children|
|Melanie Griffith||(26 June 1989 - February 1996) (divorced) 1 child|
|Melanie Griffith||(8 January 1976 - July 1976) (divorced)|
|?||(1968 - 1969) (annulled)|
Went to Wichita South High School. 1971 graduate of University of Kansas in Lawrence KS on a full drama scholarship.
Made his professional debut in the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, in "Your Own Thing," a rock musical modeled after William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." Made five pilots for NBC early in his career that were all rejected.
Got his big break into stardom by starring in the controversial off-Broadway play "Fortune and Men's Eyes", which was directed by and starred Sal Mineo. The play, which featured a realistic rape scene in a men's prison, generated plenty of press reviews due to the once taboo subject of homosexuality in the arts.
Scored three hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts with "Heartbeat" (US #6, 1986), "Heartache Away" (US #56, 1986) and the Barbra Streisand duet "Til I Loved You" (US #25, 1989).
Children: Atherton Grace Johnson (born December 28, 1999 at 7 lbs. 15 oz.), Jasper Breckenridge Johnson (born June 6, 2002 in Los Angeles, California), and Deacon James Johnson (born April 29, 2006 at 27.5 inches, 7 pounds Los Angeles, California) (with wife Kelley Phleger); Dakota Johnson (born October 4, 1989) (with then-wife Melanie Griffith); Jesse Johnson (born December 7, 1982) (with ex-girlfriend Patti D'Arbanville).
Has a family in Colorado with whom he used to celebrate Christmas.
1998: Engaged to Kelley Phleger.
Popular Finnish music group Don Johnson Big Band is named after him.
The creators of "Miami Vice" (1984) were originally against casting him. Before "Vice," he had starred in four failed TV pilots.
Third child with his wife Kelley, son Deacon, born on April 29, 2006 at a Los Angeles hospital. The baby measured 27.5 inches long and weighed 7 pounds.
Mentioned in Walter Kirn's novel "Thumbsucker".
Auditioned for the part of Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice while he was in Miami working on a low-budget film about Vietnam called Cease Fire (1985).
Loves the Tuscany area of Italy and has vacationed there often.
In 1985 during the height of Miami Vice, he had made a trip to Germany to personally order a 959 Porsche from the factory in Stuttgart.
He is a devotee of the culture of Vietnam and he owns a small island off the south coast. He honeymooned there with his wife, Kelley, in May 1999.
Considered for the part of John McClane in Die Hard (1988).
To maintain his perpetual two-day stubble on "Miami Vice" (1984), he shaved with a sideburn trimmer.
Won the 1988 APBA Offshore World Cup in the Superboat class.
During pre-production of "Miami Vice" (1984), he wanted Sonny Crockett to be "more of a cowboy", and suggested "a lot of denim, V-neck sweaters and cowboy boots". He was really unsure about how the heavy use of pastel and bright colors would fit the macho, no-nonsense persona of his character, but producer Michael Mann and costume designer Jodie Lynn Tillen managed to convince him. They saw Crockett more in the lines of a beach bum. Johnson relented and as a result became one of the biggest fashion symbols of the 1980s.
He and Tom Cruise were the premier faces of the Ray Ban brand of sunglasses during the 1980s. None of them took part in any official campaigns, but simply by clever product placement strategies both helped boost Ray Ban's sales enormously. Johnson wore many different models on "Miami Vice" (1984), most notably a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise) which increased sales of Ray Ban's to 720,000 units in 1984 alone.
Legendary fashion designer Gianni Versace cited Don Johnson and his alter-ego Sonny Crockett as inspirations. Versace once said: "The first person I dressed in Miami was Don Johnson.".
Galco designed a special shoulder holster especially for him to use on "Miami Vice" (1984). It was called the "Miami Classic". In the Galco Gunleather headquarters, there is a large display that contains the Miami Vice shoulder holster rig that Johnson wore, accompanied by an autographed photo of him.
Was the cause of much media frenzy and an uproar when he didn't wear socks to a meeting with then U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Johnson said in his defense: "I've always said that for me, a sports jacket over a t-shirt is good enough for meeting anyone, except the Queen. As for the socks, well, I must confess that I simply don't own a pair anymore. See, I live in Miami.".
Was the director's first choice for the role of Tom Wingo in The Prince of Tides (1991).
Is a cigar aficionado.
Starred in, co-created and owned a percentage of "Nash Bridges" (1996).
In the late 1980s, he was working on a film project titled "The Pro", which he hoped to direct. According to Johnson, Jack Nicholson was going to star as the Pro - a wizard who brings a boy into the world of professional golfing.
He often arrived at the set of "Miami Vice" (1984) in his own power boat, called "My Vice".
Considers himself to be done with cop shows, but doesn't rule out joining a show "if it were international in scope and global in nature".
Wellcraft let him design his own offshore power-boat, called The 43 ft Scarab Don Johnson Signature Series, and he raced a similar one.
Came up with the idea for "Las Vegas" (2003), and was planning to produce and star in it himself. The show was going to be called "Casino Eye".
He is a lifelong Democrat.
Good friend of Nick Nolte.
Was considered for the role of Francis Dollarhyde in Manhunter (1986).
Lives in Los Angeles, California.
TV actors are bigger than movie actors these days. More people see them, more people recognize them; the salaries in TV are rivaling those in feature films.
[interviewed on the "Ron and Ron" radio talk show] I can do whatever I want - I'm rich, I'm famous, and I'm bigger than you.
I like to have really fine things. I have a great appreciation for fine art, fine homes, fine wine, fine cigars and fine friends.
Anybody, any actor, any director, will tell you that the hardest job in show business is doing a weekly series, because you work 16, 14, 15 hours a day, five days a week.
[on landing "Miami Vice" (1984)] For anybody, let alone someone coming from Missouri, and someone with absolutely no contacts or no understanding of the business, I was very lucky.
Let me just say, I've seen a pub or two, and I sure knew the definition of the word "party".
I've had some ambivalent feelings about being an actor. I don't know that I've ever been totally and completely comfortable with it.
I was a little, skinny, runt kid, and I decided that bowling was what I was going to do in life.
People in the business will stay with you through drugs and alcohol and divorces and insanity and everything else, but you have a failure, pal, and they don't want to know nothing about you!
Even though some of the films I've made haven't been particularly commercial, I don't find them failures.
[on the forgotten veterans] Now is the time to make a firm statement to show solidarity in support of our fighting men and women . . . past, present and future. My reverence for their courage and sense of duty is profound . . .
I would think that anybody who was going to do a "Miami Vice" (1984) movie would at some point have to deal with "the Don Johnson factor".
I was a pariah when it came to television - I'd made five pilots or six pilots and none of them had sold.
Hollywood is very much an industry town. Your life becomes caught up in all of the parties and this list and that list. That's not something that I respond well to.
I was very lucky with my first album. It did very well. The second one was kind of "uhhh". But that happens.
[on "Nash Bridges" (1996)] I'm walking a different kind of line with this show. I want the tone of it to be something we can enjoy, something we can laugh with, and at the same time, I want it to be about the people - their heart, their feelings.
It's a great thing for an actor, who loves to do what he does, just to get a job!
The thing about the violence on television is, there's a good deal of it that's irresponsible.
There's a long, long list of well-known drunks and drug addicts in the business who work regularly.
This is my problem: I do too many things at the same time.
[on his sudden success with "Miami Vice" (1984)] You're in this constant state of flux and transition, as if you had jet lag all the time. The acting part of it is easy. It's all the other things that come with it that are a bit difficult.
|"Nash Bridges" (1996)||$150,000/episode|
(December 2005) Announced that he and wife Kelley are expecting their 3rd child together!
(March 2007) Currently appearing in "Guys and Dolls" in London
(2008) Developing sports themed television series with Ron Shelton.
(August 2008) Filming A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011).
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