Don Johnson

Active - 1967 - Present  |   Born - Dec 15, 1949 in Flat Creek, Missouri, United States  |   Genres - Action, Drama, Adventure

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Biography by AllMovie

Born December 15th, 1949, film and television actor Don Johnson first studied his trade at the University of Kansas and the American Conservatory Theatre. A professional actor by his late teens, Johnson's earliest stage and screen assignments frequently found him cast as a fallen innocent.

Johnson first gained national press coverage as the 20-year-old star of the counterculture comedy The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970). His next significant credit was the 1975 cult favorite A Boy and His Dog, based on a trenchant Harlan Ellison yarn. Personal and professional entanglements kept him alternately on and offscreen until 1984, when he staged a comeback as Sonny Crockett, a rough-shod yet impossibly hip, sailboat-dwelling Miami-area vice squad detective assigned to work opposite Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), in Michael Mann's seminal small-screen cop drama Miami Vice (1984-89). To call the program (and Johnson's role in it) "trend-setting" would be a massive understatement; the character of Crockett, with his pastel sports jackets worn atop scoop-neck t-shirts, dark sunglasses, pants without socks, and a two or three-day growth of unshaven beard, rewrote the rules of men's haute-couture for almost a decade and posited Johnson as one of American culture's top male sex symbols for a lengthy duration as well (for a time, it became seemingly impossible to look at the cover of GQ or Esquire without spotting the actor). As the series rolled on, it witnessed Crockett's character undergoing many life changes, including the violent deaths of numerous colleagues on the force and a strange, strange plot point in which he accidentally began to confuse his own identity with that of his drug-pushing alter ego in the Miami crime world.

During this second flush of fame, Johnson also distinguished himself as a dependable TV-movie leading man (notably as Ben Quick in the 1985 remake of The Long Hot Summer) and a champion powerboat racer. He also played a series of interesting leading roles in films of extremely variable quality, including Dennis Hopper's post-noir thriller The Hot Spot (1990), Mary Agnes Donoghue's romantic drama Paradise (1991) (opposite longtime partner Melanie Griffith) and Kevin Costner's hard-living buddy in Ron Shelton's gentle sports-themed romantic comedy Tin Cup (1996). During the 1995-96 season, Johnson enjoyed another career renaissance that distinctly mirrored his Vice success, as star of the TV weekly Nash Bridges. On that program, Johnson played the title character, a tough-as-nails San Francisco cop working the beat as an inspector with the municipal police department's Special Investigators Unit. Episodes found him artnered up, from assignment to assignment, with the wiseacre Hispanic detective Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin). With relentless devotion to the demands of the force and an ere-present jocularity, Bridges worked his way through a series of seemingly impossible criminal investigations over the course of five seasons. He also attempted to balance life on the squad with a difficult personal life that included a strained relationship with his ex (Annette O'Toole) and the provision of much-needed paternal guidance for his teenage daughter (Jodi O'Keefe).

No matter where he has stood careerwise, Johnson has always proven good copy for the gossip columns and tabloids thanks to his on-again off-again marriage to actress Melanie Griffith, whom he wed and divorced twice over the course of twenty years; the two ended their union for the second time in 1996. Though he found little in the way of success, Johnson worked steadily through out the late nineties and early 2000s on films including Goodbye Lover (1999), Word of Honor (2003), and Moondance Alexander (2007). The actor also played a small role in the action thriller Machete in 2010.

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  • Studied at the America Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
  • Was a contestant on The Dating Game in 1969.
  • With Dickey Betts, cowrote the songs "Blind Love" and "Can't Take It With You," which appeared on the 1979 Allman Brothers album Enlightened Rogues.
  • Won the 1988 APBA Offshore World Cup in the Superboat class.
  • Recorded the albums Heartbeat (1986) and Let It Roll (1989).
  • Was awarded more than $23 million in 2010 after suing Rysher Entertainment for profits on the show Nash Bridges (1996-2001), which he co-owned.