One of the first star profiles in the infancy of our esteemed site — operational since April 4, 2011 — covered Van Johnson. Was he gay?, we provocatively asked.
The response was both loud and voluminous. Over the ensuing thee-plus years, our Van Johnson blogs have proved to be the most read and commented upon that we have ever published. Interestingly, most of the feedback quickly dismissed the gay question, and focused on Johnson’s talent and his all around likability both on and offscreen. (Kindest regards to you too, Van.)
With today’s quiz we’d like to get back to basics — the achievements of Johnson career both in Hollywood and on the stage. How much do you know about him, and about both? Our Monday Quiz is a terrific place to find out. So here we go:
1) Question: By 1945, Johnson was Hollywood’s No. 2 box office draw. Who was No. 1? a) Humphrey Bogart; b) John Wayne; c) Clark Gable; or d) Bing Crosby.
2) Question: Johnson started out on the Broadway stage, playing a supporting role in the 1939 musical, Too Many Girls. Which of the following were also in the cast? a) Eddie Bracken; b) Desiderio Alberto Arnaz ye de Acha III; c) Eddie Cantor; or d) Dan Dailey.
3) Question: Which of the following were NOT in the cast of the RKO film version of Too Many Girls? a) Richard Carlson; b) Eddie Bracken; c) Ann Miller; or d) Lucille Ball.
4) Question: Which of the following was MOST instrumental in launching Johnson’s career at MGM? a) Louis B.Mayer; b) Spencer Tracy; c) Desiderio Alberto Arnaz ye de Acha III; or d) Lucille Ball?
5) Question: Johnson’s MGM career covered how many years and how many movies? a) five years and five films; b) 12 years and 50 titles; c) 20 years and 100 movies; or d) 10 years and 25 films.
6) Question: Which of the titles proved to be Johnson’s “breakthrough” movie, the one that made him a star? a) Somewhere I’ll Find You; b) Two Girls and a Sailor; c) A Guy Named Joe; or d) The White Cliffs of Dover.
7) Question: Something offscreen happened to Van Johnson that threatened his early movie career. What was it? a) He was seriously injured in a mountain climbing incident; b) He barely survived a small plane crash; c) He fell off a ladder at home and hit his head on the kitchen stove; or d) He sustained multiple injuries when his car was rammed by another in Culver City.
8) Question: When MGM boss Louis B.Mayer heard rumors of Johnson’s supposed homosexuality, he assigned an actress to sexually “test” the actor. Who was chosen for the task? a) Joan Crawford; b) Irene Dunne; c) Lana Turner; or d) Gale Sondergaard.
9) Question: Louis B.Mayer also was involved in setting up an “arranged” marriage uniting Johnson and the ex-wife of a famous contract player. Who was this actor? a) Brian Aherne; b) Keenan Wynn; c) Ronal Colman; or d) Dan Dailey.
10) Question: Which movie is now considered Johnson’s finest, a film that has become a classic? (Hint: Humphrey Bogart is in the cast.)