‘Midnight Cowboy’ actress Georgann Johnson dies at 91

Midnight Cowboy” actress Georgann Johnson died June 4 in Los Angeles. She was 91.

With a career spanning six decades, the Iowa native first appeared on television in 1950s commercials, later appearing opposite James Dean in TV drama “Life Sentence” (1953).

Johnson’s live TV performances include the original production of “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1956) with Paul Newman as well as playing Tony Randall’s wife in “Mr. Peepers” from 1952 to 1955.

The actress recalled: “It was a terribly good and terribly funny show and yet very gentle. I realized how much a special thing it was at the time.”

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Georgann Johnson through the years
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Georgann Johnson through the years
NEW YORK - MAY 8: On the set of CBS television program, Danger. Left to right, Victor Thorley, Georgann Johnson, and John Baragrey (at right). New York, NY. Image dated May 8, 1953. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19: The United States Steel Hour presentation of 'Bang the Drum Slowly.' Featuring Paul Newman, right, (as Henry Wiggen, a pitcher for the New York Mammoths baseball team), Georgann Johnson (as Holly, Henry's wife), Albert Salmi, center, (as Bruce Pierson, is paired with Wiggen). September 19, 1956. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
DR. KILDARE -- Pictured: (l-r) Raymond Massey as Dr. Leonard Gillespie, Georgann Johnson as Andrea Gaer, Richard Chamberlain as Dr. James Kildare, Walter Matthau as Franklin Gaer -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
THREE'S COMPANY - 'Extra, Extra' - Airdate: October 26, 1982. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)GEORGANN JOHNSON;JOHN RITTER;MINA KOLB;PRISCILLA BARNES
HART TO HART - 'Highland Fling' - Airdate: November 29, 1983. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) CHARLIE THE DOG AS 'FREEWAY';LIONEL STANDER;ROBERT WAGNER;GEORGANN JOHNSON;STEFANIE POWERS
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 20: ABC TV MOVIE - 'The Day After' - 11/20/83, A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas. Jason Robards and Georgann Johnson starred as Dr. Russell Oakes and his wife, Helen., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 20: ABC TV MOVIE - 'The Day After' - 11/20/83, A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas. Jason Robards and Georgann Johnson starred as Dr. Russell Oakes and his wife, Helen., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
THE COLBYS - 'Bloodlines' - Airdate November 6, 1986. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) STEPHANIE BEACHAM;GEORGANN JOHNSON
THE COLBYS - 'Bloodlines' - Airdate November 6, 1986. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) GEORGANN JOHNSON
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Her dream of singing in a Big Band came to fruition in Steve Allen’s “Songs for Sale” (1950-1952), a talent show for aspiring songwriters. Peggy Lee performed Johnson’s song, which won the prize and made an impression on Allen. He later cast her in the live television musical “The Bachelor.” In 1954, Johnson headed to Broadway to appear in “Reclining Figure” as well as the “Room Service” revival starring Jack Lemmon in 1953.

In the 1960’s, Johnson performed in “Critic’s Choice” on Broadway opposite Henry Fonda as well as episodes of “Dr. Kildare,” “The Doctors,” and “The Fugitive.” She later encountered Jon Voight as the “Rich Lady” in 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy.”

The 70s featured soap operas for Johnson, as she appeared in long-running roles on both “Another World/Somerset” as Ellen Grant and in “As the World Turns” as Jane Spencer.

Throughout the next 35 years, Johnson recurred on “All My Children” and “Wiseguy.” She appeared as Sharon Gless’ mother in “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill” and as Jane Seymour in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” Johnson also featured in guest spots on “Seinfeld,” “Thirtysomething,” and “Elsewhere.”

Johnson is survived by her four daughters: Carol Prager, Annie Prager, Sally Seymour, and Molly Boyll, as well as three grandchildren.

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