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George Clayton Johnson

George Clayton Johnson

American writer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American writer
Countries United States of America
Occupations Actor Screenwriter Novelist Writer Film actor Science fiction writer
Gender male
Birth July 10, 1929 (Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, U.S.A.)
Death December 22, 2015 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.)
Education Auburn University
Notable Works Logan's Run
The details

George Clayton Johnson (July 10, 1929 – December 25, 2015) was an American science fiction writer, best known for co-writing with William F. Nolan the novel Logan's Run, the basis for the MGM 1976 film. He was also known for his television scripts for The Twilight Zone (including "Nothing in the Dark", "Kick the Can", "A Game of Pool", and "A Penny for Your Thoughts"), and the first telecast episode of Star Trek, entitled "The Man Trap". He also wrote the story on which the 1960 and 2001 films Ocean's Eleven were based.

Early life

Johnson was born in a barn in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was forced to repeat the sixth grade, and dropped out of school entirely in the eighth. He briefly served as a telegraph operator and draftsman in the United States Army, then enrolled at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) under the G.I. Bill, but quit to return to his travels around the U.S., working as a draftsman, before becoming a writer.

Writing career

"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."
—Johnson quoted in The Twilight Zone Companion

In 1959, Johnson wrote the story "I'll Take Care of You" for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From 1959 onward, Johnson's work began to regularly appear in magazines such as Playboy, Los Angeles, The Twilight Zone Magazine, Rogue, and Gamma, and he began to write stories and scripts for TV. In 1960, he co-wrote the treatment (with Jack Golden Russell) for the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11, although most of the details were changed for the actual movie. Later, Johnson joined the Southern California School of Writers that included, among others, William F. Nolan, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury.

Through them he met Rod Serling, to whom he sold his story "All of Us Are Dying", which was produced as "The Four of Us Are Dying", scripted by Serling. Eventually, after selling other stories and having them scripted by other writers for the show, Johnson asked Serling to let him attempt a teleplay for the series, which was "A Penny for Your Thoughts". Later, after completing more scripts for The Twilight Zone, he worked as a writer for other television series, including Honey West, Wanted Dead or Alive, Route 66 and Kung Fu. Johnson also wrote the Star Trek episode "The Man Trap", which was the first episode telecast. Johnson briefly had a L.A.-based radio program called "The Writer and the Story" which featured interviews with authors, including Charles Beaumont and William F. Nolan. As his career progressed, Johnson formed, in the 1960s, a loose, short-lived federation with fellow authors and friends Matheson, Theodore Sturgeon, and others called "The Green Hand." The intent was to leverage their works in the fashion of a union within the Hollywood system for TV production. Unfortunately, the enterprise fell apart after a few months. In his later years, he wrote comic books and was a frequent guest at sci-fi and comics conventions. Johnson co-created the comic book series "Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology" with cartoonist and author Jay Allen Sanford.

Personal life

Johnson married Lola Brownstein on October 10, 1952 in Los Angeles, and fathered two children, Paul and Judy. He was a vocal advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Along with his writing output, Johnson was instrumental to the early development of San Diego Comic Con. He was also a longtime vegetarian.


Johnson died on Christmas Day 2015, of bladder and prostate cancer at a Veterans Administration Medical Center hospital in North Hills, California. Johnson was survived by his son Paul, his daughter Judy, and his wife Lola of 63 years. He is interred at Riverside National Cemetery.

Partial bibliography


  • Ocean's 11 (1960) – Novelisation (based on the treatment of the film by Johnson and Jack Golden Russell)
  • Logan's Run (1967) – Novel (with William F. Nolan)

Television and film scripts

  • Icarus Montgolfier Wright (with Ray Bradbury; 1962)
  • Logan's Run (1976)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

  • "I'll Take Care of You" (1959; story by)

The Twilight Zone

  • "The Four of Us Are Dying (1960; story by)
  • "Execution" (1960; story by)
  • "A Penny for Your Thoughts" (1961; teleplay)
  • "A Game of Pool" (1961; teleplay)
  • "Nothing in the Dark" (1962; teleplay)
  • "Kick the Can" (1962; teleplay; also featured in the 1983 movie The Twilight Zone: The Movie)
  • "Ninety Years Without Slumbering" (1963; story by, as Johnson Smith)
  • In 1960, Johnson submitted a story to The Twilight Zone called "Sea Change" which wasn't used but was later adapted for Johnson's 1994 comic book series Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology.

Route 66

  • "Eleven, the Hard Way" (1961; story by)

Honey West

  • "The Flame and the Pussycat" (1965; teleplay)

Star Trek

  • "The Man Trap" (1966; teleplay; first aired episode of the series)

Kung Fu

  • "The Demon God" (1974; teleplay)

Film, TV and documentary appearances

  • Sea Hunt ("Sub Hatch" [Season 4, Episode 19]; 1961) as "USCG Lt. Hartwell"
  • The Intruder (dir. Roger Corman; 1962) as villain "Phil West"
  • Archive of American Television (2003) as himself
  • Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man (dir. Jason V Brock; JaSunni Productions, LLC; 2010) as himself
  • The AckerMonster Chronicles! (dir. Jason V Brock; JaSunni Productions, LLC; 2012) as himself

Fiction collections

  • Writing for The Twilight Zone (Outre House, 1980)
  • George Clayton Johnson Twilight Zone Scripts & Stories (Streamline Pictures, 1996)
  • All of Us Are Dying and Other Stories (Subterranean Press, 1999)

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result ref
1976 Inkpot Award Lifetime achievement
  • Screenwriter
  • Comic book writer
Nebula Award Nebula Award for Best Script Logan's Run Nominated
1977 Hugo Award Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Logan's Run Nominated
1980 Balrog Award Best works and achievements of speculative fiction A Penny For Your Thoughts (The Twilight Zone) (S 2:Ep 16) Nominated
Nothing in the Dark (The Twilight Zone) (S 3:Ep 16) Nominated
1981 Sea Change (The Twilight Zone) Nominated
1982 All of Us Are Dying (Twilight Zone May 1982) Won
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Early life Writing career Personal life Partial bibliography Awards and nominations
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