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Sample Autograph Signature: Van Johnson

American film and television actor, singer and dancer. Charles Van Johnson was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1916 to a Swedish plumbing contractor and a Pennsylvania Dutch mother. When only a toddler, his parents divorced and his father was given custody due to the mother's alcoholism. Johnson began dancing in theatrical musicals during his high school years, then made his Broadway debut in 1936 as a chorus boy in the Broadway revue New Faces of 1936. In 1939, he was a member of the chorus and also received a small dancing role as a college boy in the Rodgers and Hart Broadway production of Too Many Girls. After being a cast member and Gene Kelly's understudy in the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey, Johnson went to Hollywood, signed a short-term contract with RKO, and made his film debut dancing the same role in the film adaptation of Too Many Girls. MGM picked up his contract from RKO in 1942, and by 1943 he was cast in strong supporting roles in Madame Curie , The Human Comedy, and A Guy Named Joe before getting star billing in the 1944 Two Girls and a Sailor. Throughout the 1940s MGM promoted his image as the "all-American boy" and the bobbysoxer's heartthrob. As an MGM star he had many leading roles, but his best performances continued to be in supporting roles such as State of the Union (1948), Command Decision (1948), and Brigadoon (1954). He left MGM after the latter film and co-starred in The Caine Mutiny (1954), one his most memorable roles. It was also in the 1950s, as middle age replace youth, that his film career peaked and he lost his teenage icon status. His film career has been erratic since 1960, although he staged a film comeback as a character actor in the late 1960s with his work in such productions as Divorce American Style (1967). His career in the 70s and 80s consisted mostly of stage and summer-theater circuit work, and appearances in TV series and sitcoms. He did enjoyed a comeback in 1985 when he appeared in the hit Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles and in a supporting role in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Johnson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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