Charles Van Dell Johnson was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the only child of Loretta (née Snyder), a housewife, and Charles E. Johnson, a native Swede and came to the United States as a young child, His mother was Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry and an alcoholic who left the family when he was a child. His father was remote figure in his son’s life as Ned Wynn, Van’s stepson wrote in his memoir of growing up in Hollywood, We Will always live in Beverly Hills. ¹
When Johnson became a star he invited his father to Los Angeles and took him to the famous Chasen’s restaurant, only for Charles Johnson to refuse to eat anything but a tuna sandwich. “Van was devastated,” Wynn wrote. “He had wanted to show his father that now, after years of a grey, loveless, miserly life, he was a star, he could afford steak. And the old bastard had beaten him down one more time
Though his screen image was generally lighthearted , his stepson remembered him as anything but.
“His tolerance of unpleasantness was minuscule. If there were the slightest hint of trouble with one of the children, or with the house, the car, the servants, the delivery of the newspaper, the lack of ice in the silver ice bucket, the colour of the candles on the dining-room table, Van immediately left the couch, the dinner table, the pool, the tennis court, the party, the restaurant, the vacation, and strode moodily off to his bedroom to be alone.”
Johnson had married Ned’s mother, Eve Lynn Abbot, on January 25, 1947 in Juarez Mexico , only hours after she had divorced the actor Keenan Wynn, his best friend in the same town. The chart below shows Johnson’s transits to that day.
They had one daughter, Schuyler, and divorced in 1968, because of his affair with a man in the company²; His ex-wife Eve died in 2004 in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.
• (Charles) Van Dell Johnson, actor, born 25 August 1916, Newport News, Rhode Island; died 12 December 2008, Nyack, Rockland County, New York.
We have rectified his chart from the stated 5:10 AM to 3:10 AM to more properly fit the known details of his life. The second chart a bi-wheel has the correct date but of course wrong time; we do not know what time he reposed, but the angles work well with the rectified chart also.
His natal chart, the one with the empty sectors in red, gives him a 08 Virgo Ascendant (the symbol of a man receiving his first dancing instruction with the idea from specific skills one can launch a great and effective endeavour) with his Part of Fortune conjunct at 11 Virgo ( the symbol of a man seeking illumination through creating a better self-image).
They are semisextile Neptune & Saturn in Leo in the Eleventh showing his career spanned both drama & song and dance roles (the Gemini Mid-heaven also depicts a duality to his career) and his harsh remote father, all of which are are opposite Uranus in its essential Lord of Aquarius, giving him a natural talent for the Silver Screen and his belief that his success in his career would solve all his problems (Neptune leading to some delusional thinking there because of its square to the Midheaven and Jupiter that tends to overpromise rewards).
Johnson suffered from a lot of mood swings as shown by the Moon is in its essential house of Cancer but in the twelfth house of large-scale business, showing that the stress of his career did get to him. We believe that his wife’s contention that she was forced to marry Johnson was a lie after the fact, and that she did not realize his homophile tendencies but like many of his female fans fells for the Hollywood allure. He on the other hand, was quite aware of them and misled his wife to be, to protect his career (No Node in the seventh house.
The Moon square his Jupiter in the tenth, suggests that he drank like his mother, to handle the stresses of his career and Louis Meyer of MGM who was known to be a dictatorial ogre towards his starts. His death chart shows that Van was rather lonely in his old age, with everyone either dead or estranged.
- L. A. Times review of Ned Wynn’s book, “We will always have Hollywood.”
- The Independent newspaper of London, among other sources, cited at the time that Van had run off with a male dancer in the London company of “The Music Man.” Johnson was starring as Professor Harold Hill. Johnson and Wynn Johnson divorced thereafter in 1968.
- The Featured Image is of Van Johnson and his teenage daughter Schuyler Johnson.
- Obit for Eve Wynn Johnson from the UK Guardian click here. She died four years before her husband in Florida.