biography

Born Karl Oscar Tore Johansson in Sweden on October 19, 1903, B-movie legend Tor Johnson began his studio wrestling career in the 1940s as "The Swedish Angel," after doing many bit parts and uncredited appearances in films in the 1930s. By virtue of his rather frightening visage and enormous 300+ pound frame, he gained a sort of notoriety in 1950s horror and science fiction movies, especially the films of Ed Wood. Interestingly, Johnson had a longer and more successful career in Hollywood than most of Wood's other regulars, making many films and a number of appearances on TV in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Today, Tor Johnson is probably best known for his appearances in the Ed Wood classics Bride of the Monster (1955; with Bela Lugosi and Dolores Fuller) and Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959; with Gregory Walcott and Dudley Manlove). However, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000, some of Johnson's other films have been rediscovered by cult film fans, such as The Unearthly (1957; with John Carradine, Sally Todd and Allison Hayes) and The Beast from Yucca Flats (1961; directed by Coleman Francis).

the films of tor johnson

Behind Locked Doors (1948) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tor Johnson

Tor Johnson is sadistically tormented in a sanitarium in the film noir thriller Behind Locked Doors

The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

Tor Johnson and Bob Hope

From the Paramount comedy The Lemon Drop Kid with Bob Hope

Bride of the Monster (1955) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tor Johnson and Loretta King

Tor Johnson menaces Loretta King in Bride of the Monster

The Black Sleep (1956) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tor Johnson and John CarradinePatricia Blair, Herbert Rudley, and Tor Johnson

From The Black Sleep. LEFT: With John Carradine. RIGHT: With Patricia Blair and Herbert Rudley

The Unearthly (1957)

The UnearthlyTor Johnson and Myron HealyTor Johnson

LEFT: Poster from the Republic horror film The Unearthly. CENTER: Tor Johnson tries to strangle Myron Healy. RIGHT: Johnson as Lobo

Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tor Johnson and Mona McKinnonTor Johnson

From Ed Wood's best known film Plan Nine from Outer Space. LEFT: With Mona McKinnon. RIGHT: Tor as the undead Inspector Clay

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Beast of Yucca Flats

Lobby card from the film. The Beast of Yucca Flats was directed by the notorious Coleman Francis

later years

Due to his sheer bulk, Johnson had the unfortunate tendency of shattering toilet seats when he sat on them, which explains his habit of stealing toilet seats from the hotel rooms he stayed in. He also drank copious amounts of beer (usually a case at a time), and dessert for Johnson often included gallons of ice cream. Plagued by heart problems in his later years, Johnson passed away at age 67 on May 12, 1971. Tor Johnson's son, Karl, was once a policeman in San Fernando, California; in addition, he appeared in a few of his father's movies, such as The Unearthly and Plan Nine from Outer Space. Karl Johnson passed away on May 15, 1993, at age 69.

tor johnson films available from movies unlimited

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The Best Of Bud Abbott And Lou Costello, Vol. 3 [DVD] DVD
The laughs are out of this world as "Abbott & Costello Go to Mars" (1953); they star as wrestling promoters who get involved with a sexy spy in "Abbott & Costello in the Foreign Legion" (1950); "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) while trying to dodge Bela Lugosi (as Dracula); it takes a doctor's invisibility serum to help catch a crook in "Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man" (1950); Bud and Lou suspect a swami of murder in "Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff" (1949); the fellows search for gold in backwoods Kentucky in "Comin' Round the Mountain" (1951); they get "Lost in Alaska" (1952) while trying to help a prospector; and a stock scheme sends the duo south of the border in "Mexican Hayride" (1948). 10 3/4 hr
Behind Locked Doors [DVD](1948) DVD
Private eye Richard Carlson masquerades as a patient in an asylum in an attempt to find a missing judge and collect a reward, but will he crack the case before the conditions crack him? Well-made suspenser from Budd Boetticher ("Comanche Station") with a "Snake Pit"-type atmosphere; co-stars Lucille Bremer and the great Tor Johnson. AKA: "Human Gorilla." 62 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English mono; scene access.
Those Daring Young Men In Their Jaunty Jalopies (1969)/Houdini (1953) [Blu-ray]
Two-disc set includes "Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies" and "Houdini."
Houdini [DVD](1953) DVD
Lavish (if not always accurate) account of the legendary magician/escape artist/spiritualist stars Tony Curtis as Harry Houdini and Janet Leigh as his wife (the couple's first film together). Many of Houdini's greatest stunts--including his famous escape from a locked trunk submerged in an icy river--are thrillingly re-created in this biodrama from producer George Pal. Torin Thatcher, Angela Clarke co-star; look quickly for an uncredited Tor Johnson. 107 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Bride Of The Monster (B&W/Color Versions) [DVD](1955) DVD
Wood and Lugosi team up again in this tale of a mad scientist out to create a race of "atomic super-giants." See Tor Johnson as Lobo, Lugosi's mute lab assistant! See Bela wrestle with an obvious rubber octopus! See Tor wrestle with Bela's platform-heeled stand-in! "He tampered in God's domain!" With Tony McCoy, Loretta King. Includes both the original black-and-white and the newly colorized versions. 68 min. Soundtrack: English; featurette; interviews; theatrical trailers.
Journey To Freedom [DVD](1957) DVD
A real rarity, this wild thriller is based on the life of its writer, exploitation filmmaker and Ed Wood-ally Stephen Apostolof ("Orgy of the Dead"). After his release from a Bulgarian prison, a man has a series of adventures before landing in America, where he fights the "Red Peril." Anti-communist drama features Jacques Scott, Jean Ann Lewis, and Tor Johnson. 60 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English. Plays All Regions.
The Black Sleep [DVD](1956) DVD
An all-star horror cast (Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Akim Tamiroff, Tor Johnson) is featured in this spooky tale of a 19th-century doctor who specializes in bizarre experiments and his castle full of mutants, madmen, and other "victims." AKA: "Dr. Cadman's Secret." 81 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Night Of The Ghouls [DVD](1959) DVD
The long-lost "sequel" to "Bride of the Monster" stars Criswell, Vampira and the ever-popular Tor Johnson in a tale of fake mediums who find themselves up against the true "walking dead." Writer/director Wood calls them "Monsters to be pitied...monsters to be despised." Who are we to argue? 69 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (B&W/Color Versions) [DVD](1959) DVD
Recognized on six continents as "the worst film ever made," this sci-fi travesty from Ed Wood features anti-nuclear aliens whose ships look like paper plates, Tor Johnson and Vampira as zombie slaves, Bela Lugosi in two minutes of stock footage (a stand-in with a cape took his place), and narration by famed psychic Criswell. "Can you prove it didn't happen?" Includes both the original black-and-white and the newly colorized versions. 93 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English; audio commentary; featurettes; bonus footage; trailer; more.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (B&W/Color Versions) [Blu-ray](1959)
Recognized on six continents as "the worst film ever made," this sci-fi travesty from Ed Wood features anti-nuclear aliens whose ships look like paper plates, Tor Johnson and Vampira as zombie slaves, Bela Lugosi in two minutes of stock footage (a stand-in with a cape took his place), and narration by famed psychic Criswell. "Can you prove it didn't happen?" Includes both the original black-and-white and the newly colorized versions. 93 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English; audio commentary; more.
Plan 9 From Outer Space [DVD](1959) DVD
Recognized on six continents as "the worst film ever made," this sci-fi travesty from Ed Wood features anti-nuclear aliens whose ships look like paper plates, Tor Johnson and Vampira as zombie slaves, Bela Lugosi in two minutes of stock footage (a stand-in with a cape took his place), and narration by famed psychic Criswell. "Can you prove it didn't happen?" 78 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; featurette.
RiffTrax Live!: Plan 9 From Outer Space [Blu-ray](2009)
Before an audience at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, RiffTrax stars Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Mike Nelson offer their riotous running commentary on the colorized version of Ed Wood's beloved sci-fi stinker, as well as the vintage travelogue "Flying Stewardess." This laugh-filled live event also features a pair of comedic short films by Rich Kyanka and music from Jonathan Coulton. 117 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.
RiffTrax Live!: Plan 9 From Outer Space [DVD](2009) DVD
Before an audience at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, RiffTrax stars Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Mike Nelson offer their riotous running commentary on the colorized version of Ed Wood's beloved sci-fi stinker, as well as the vintage travelogue "Flying Stewardess." This laugh-filled live event also features a pair of comedic short films by Rich Kyanka and music from Jonathan Coulton. 117 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.
The Beast Of Yucca Flats [DVD](1961) DVD
You'll really ``yuc'' it up at this hilarious sci-fi turkey starring the legendary Tor Johnson as a Russian scientist who gets caught up in an A-bomb blast and becomes a cave-dwelling wildman ("Tor not like nuclear proliferation!"). With Douglas Mellor, Barbara Francis, and off-screen narration a la "The Creeping Terror." Special video edition includes a conversation with producer Anthony Cardoza and actor Conrad Brooks. 54 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Big Box Of Wood [DVD] DVD
So-bad-he's-great writer/director Edward D. Wood, Jr. enjoyed a fruitful partnership with sexploitation director Stephen C. Apostolof, co-scripting "The Snow Bunnies" (1973), which mixes chilly weather and hot romantic action. Marsha Jordan, Rene Bond, and Forman Shane star. Wood also created some of the unforgettable dialogue for Apostolof's equally hot skin flick "The Beach Bunnies" (1976), in which an intrepid gossip reporter looks into claims that a hunky movie star had a sex change. Brenda Fogarty, Linda Gildersleeve star. Wood and Apostolof's screenplay for "Hot Ice" (1978) blends cheeky eroticism with a cosmopolitan caper story. With Harvey Shain, Patti Kelley, and Wood. Six-disc set also includes "Jail Bait," "Bride of the Monster," "The Violent Years," "Plan 9 From Outer Space," "The Sinister Urge," "Drop Out Wife," and "Fugitive Girls," plus the two vintage shorts "Trick Shooting With Keene Duncan" (1953) and "Crossroad Avenger: The Adventures Of The Tucson Kid" (1953). 16 1/3 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English.

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filmography

FILM
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) with Anthony Cardoza; directed by Coleman Francis
Night of the Ghouls (1959) with Kenne Duncan, Duke Moore, Paul Marco, Harvey B. Dunn, and Valda Hansen; directed by Ed Wood
Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959) with Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge, and Lyle Talbot; directed by Ed Wood
The Unearthly (1957) with Allison Hayes, Myron Healey, Sally Todd, and John Carradine
Journey To Freedom (1957) with Eve Brent
The Black Sleep (1956) with Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, and John Carradine
Carousel (1956) with Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell, and Barbara Ruick
Bride of the Monster (aka Bride of the Atom) (1955) with Bela Lugosi and Dolores Fuller; directed by Ed Wood
Houdini (1953) with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh
The San Francisco Story (1952) with Joel McCrea and Yvonne De Carlo
Lady in the Iron Mask (1952) with Louis Hayward, Patricia Medina, Alan Hale Jr., and Steve Brodie
Dear Brat (1951) with Mona Freeman, Billy De Wolfe, Edward Arnold, Lyle Bettger, Natalie Wood, William Reynolds, and Frank Cady
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) with Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, Andrea King, Fred Clark, Jay C. Flippen, and William Frawley
Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Patricia Medina, and Walter Slezak
The Reformer and The Redhead (1950) with June Allyson, Dick Powell, David Wayne, Cecil Kellaway, and Ray Collins
Alias The Champ (1949) with Robert Rockwell, Barbra Fuller, Audrey Long, and Gorgeous George
State of the Union (1948) with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury, and Adolphe Menjou
Behind Locked Doors (aka The Human Gorilla) (1948) with Richard Carlson
Road To Rio (1947) with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Gale Sondergaard, and Frank Faylen
Sudan (1945) with Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Turhan Bey, Andy Devine, and George Zucco
The Canterville Ghost (1944)
Lost In A Harem (1944)
Ghost Catchers (1944)
Meanest Man in the World (1943)
Swing Out The Blues (1943)
Under Two Flags (1936)
Man On The Flying Trapeze (1935)
Kid Millions (1933)

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
People's Court (1962)
Shirley Temple's Storybook, episode Pippi Longstocking, originally aired January 8, 1961
The Red Skelton Show (196?)
Bonanza, episode San Francisco Holiday, originally aired April 2, 1960
Peter Gunn, episode See No Evil, originally aired February 1, 1960
Adventures in Paradise, episode The Lady from South Chicago, originally aired November 2, 1959
The Adventures of Hiram Holliday, episode Dancing Mouse, originally aired December 12, 1956
You Bet Your Life (1959), the quiz show hosted by Groucho Marx. Johnson was a contestant who was quizzed on mythology
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, various episodes, series originally aired 1954-1955
You Are There, episode The Surrender of Corregidor, originally aired April 25, 1954

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Watch Tor Johnson's 1959 film Plan Nine From Outer Space

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