One of George’s favorite themes as a writer was that of cheating death. News outlets have already reported on his death but he is still among us, the living. This is an irony that I must think is appreciated by George. His legion of fans have entered a process of mourning. His spirit, I must think, is pleased, restful, and joyful. Some fans believe he will hang on with us until Christmas.
George Clayton Johnson is in hospice and nearing the end. Of course, he will always live on. His impressive writing career began when he thought up the ultimate heist story. That was to be the Rat Pack classic, Ocean’s Eleven.
George Clayton Johnson has led a full life as a writer, activist, and all-around humanitarian. He will always be an important part of some key pop culture: Ocean’s Eleven, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Logan’s Run. It’s pretty phenomenal when you stop and think about it. And such a decent man. Such a very decent man.
George came from humble origins, poverty-stricken Cheyenne, Wyoming during the Great Depression. He followed his heart, became great friends with legends and, in the process of living, loving, and creating, became a legend himself. This man did not seek out notoriety in some contrived manner. George had the great fortune of possessing just the right combination of talent, determination, and luck. As for luck, he gravitated toward other great talent. As for talent, he’d always had that. He loved to read since he could remember and writing came naturally to him. And, as for determination, that’s just second-nature to a man like George.
This is the man who co-wrote the novel that led to Ocean’s Eleven. He then went on to write iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone. He wrote the first aired episode of Star Trek. And, in a great capping off to a career, co-wrote the novel that led to the cult-classic Logan’s Run. But there’s much more to it than that. On a deeper level, it was always about maintaining one’s integrity and fighting to create something original in a world that demands the tried and true.
I had the opportunity to interview George for a couple of podcast interviews and got to chat a bit over the phone with him. During the course of one of our conversations, I suggested to him that his life and times would add up to an interesting book. I began work on it. We got to meet in person at his home in Los Angeles in December of 2014. For the next year, I began work on a book in a graphic novel format. It was through knowing George that I opened myself up more to my own love of writing. It was George who helped me rediscover Theodore Sturgeon. And it was George, because of his spirited way, that I opened myself up more to the world in general.
We had planned to meet again this year like before, in December of 2015, but, by then, it was too late. George was already in hospice care and, in the time that followed, it became clear that his time left was short. I had hoped to show him what I’d created thus far. But, I immediately understood, a significant page had turned. The time for asking questions or seeking advice had passed. I understood that I was alone to proceed. George had passed on the baton, just like he did for so many others like me.
The truth is that George will always be around.
8 responses to “George Clayton Johnson, A Remembrance”
This is a wonderful tribute to your friend. His gifts to you are priceless.
Thank you, Allan. Yes, George will always be with me.
So sorry to hear this, Henry. I’ve been preparing a post on comics/graphic novels as a pre-post to my review of George’s Run Part One. And I’ll be linking to your blog in both and now,of course I’ll link to the latest tribute post of yours about George. I ‘ll be putting them n the blog at the start of he New Year. The whole George’s Run concept seems very appropriate and Part One is a promising taster.
Thank you, Anne. I will take this opportunity to say that I’ve been reading your book, Displacement, and I’ve been enjoying it. I do indeed plan to give it a proper review as soon as I can, perhaps at the top of the new year.
Oh, I wasn’t expecting that. Thank you.
You’re certainly welcome.
Great post Henry, this is very sad news. I’m a huge fan of Star Trek and the Twilight Zone and George crafted some wonderful stories for both of these series and beyond. His legacy will live on.
Thank you, Chris. As of this writing, George is still among us. Indeed, all signs indicate that his time left is very short. He is in hospice care and reports have begun to appear of his death. As you may know, a favorite theme of his is cheating death. So, I’m sure he would appreciate all this.