Nunnally Johnson

Nunnally Johnson
Born Nunnally Hunter Johnson
(1897-12-05)December 5, 1897
Columbus, Georgia, US
Died March 25, 1977(1977-03-25) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, U.S.
Spouse(s) Alice Love Mason (1919–1920) 1 child
Marion Byrnes (1927–1938) 1 child
Dorris Bowdon (1940–1977) 3 children
Children Marjorie Fowler (1920–2003)
Nora Johnson
Christie Johnson Lucero
Roxanna Johnson Lonergan
Scott Johnson

Nunnally Hunter Johnson (December 5, 1897 – March 25, 1977) was an American filmmaker who wrote, produced, and directed motion pictures.


Early life

Nunnally Hunter Johnson was born on December 5, 1897 in Columbus, Georgia. He was the first of two sons born to Johnny Pearl "Onnie" (née Patrick) and James Nunnally "Jim" Johnson. He and his younger brother, Cecil Patrick Johnson, were raised in Columbus, Georgia. His father was a journeyman mechanic, turned tinsmith and coppersmith, turned pipe and sheetmetal shop superintendent for the Central of Georgia Railway.[1][2] Nunnally graduated from Columbus High School in 1915.[3] While living in Columbus in 1919, at 1312 Third Street, Nunnally was a second lieutenant in the field artillery reserve corps.[4] Cecil graduated from Georgia Tech in 1924,[5] married Gene Clair Norris,[6] and moved to Bellingham, Washington, where he was first a gas department superintendent and later a vice-president with Puget Sound Power & Light.[7][8]


He began his career as a journalist, writing for the Columbus Enquirer Sun, the Savannah Press, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and the New York Herald Tribune. He also wrote short stories and a collection of these, There Ought To Be a Law, was published in 1930. His first connection with film work was the sale of screen rights to one of his stories in 1927. Johnson asked his editor if he could write film criticism articles in 1932. When this request was denied, he decided to relocate to Hollywood and work directly in the film industry.

Quickly finding work as a scriptwriter, Johnson was hired full-time as a writer by 20th Century-Fox in 1935. He soon began producing films as well and co-founded International Pictures in 1943 with William Goetz. Johnson also directed several films in the 1950s, including two starring Gregory Peck. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and the Directors Guild of America Best Director Award in 1956 for The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. In 1964, Johnson adapted his daughter Nora Johnson's novel The World of Henry Orient into a film of the same title, starring Peter Sellers.

Personal life

His first marriage, in 1919 at Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights,[9] was to Alice Love Mason, with whom he had one daughter, Marjorie Fowler (film editor, born July 16, 1920). Alice was an editor with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.[10] Mason and Johnson divorced in 1920. His second marriage was to Marion Byrnes in 1927, also a staff member of the Daily Eagle,[11] with whom he also had a daughter, Nora Johnson. Byrnes's and Johnson's marriage ended in 1938.

While filming The Grapes of Wrath, Johnson met his third wife, a fellow southerner, actress Dorris Bowdon, a Mississippi native. The two were married at the home of Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, in Nyack-on-the-Hudson (Nyack, New York), on February 4, 1940.[12] Together they had three children; daughter Christie Johnson Lucero, daughter Roxanna Johnson Lonergan and Johnson's only son, Scott Johnson. They resided in a mansion located at 625 Mountain drive in Beverly Hills, California.[13] It was designed by architect Paul R. Williams and built from 1937 to 1938 by O' Neal and Son.[13]


He died of pneumonia in Hollywood in 1977 and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.[14]


Year Title As
Writer Producer Director
1927 Rough House Rosie Yes*
1933 A Bedtime Story Yes
Mama Loves Papa Yes*
1934 Moulin Rouge Yes
The House of Rothschild Yes
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back Yes
Kid Millions Yes
1935 Cardinal Richelieu Yes** Yes
Baby Face Harrington Yes
Thanks a Million Yes
The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo Yes Yes
1936 The Prisoner of Shark Island Yes Yes
The Country Doctor Yes
Dimples Yes
The Road to Glory Yes** Yes
Banjo on My Knee Yes Yes
1937 Nancy Steele Is Missing! Yes
Cafe Metropole Yes
Slave Ship Yes
Love Under Fire Yes
1939 Jesse James Yes Yes
Wife, Husband and Friend Yes Yes
Rose of Washington Square Yes Yes***
1940 The Grapes of Wrath Yes Yes
I Was an Adventuress Yes** Yes
Chad Hanna Yes Yes
1941 Tobacco Road Yes
1942 Roxie Hart Yes Yes
Moontide Yes**
The Pied Piper Yes Yes
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty Yes Yes
1943 The Moon Is Down Yes Yes
Holy Matrimony Yes Yes
1944 Casanova Brown Yes Yes
The Keys of the Kingdom Yes
1945 The Woman in the Window Yes Yes
The Southerner Yes
Along Came Jones Yes
1946 The Dark Mirror Yes Yes
1947 The Senator Was Indiscreet Yes
1948 Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid Yes Yes
1949 Everybody Does It Yes Yes
1950 Three Came Home Yes Yes
The Gunfighter Yes** Yes
The Mudlark Yes Yes
1951 The Long Dark Hall Yes
The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel Yes Yes
1952 Phone Call from a Stranger Yes Yes
We're Not Married! Yes Yes
O. Henry's Full House Yes**
My Cousin Rachel Yes Yes
1953 How to Marry a Millionaire Yes Yes
1954 Night People Yes Yes Yes
Witness to Murder Yes**
Black Widow Yes Yes Yes
1955 How to Be Very, Very Popular Yes Yes Yes
1956 The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Yes Yes Yes
1957 Oh, Men! Oh Women! Yes Yes Yes
The Three Faces of Eve Yes Yes Yes
1959 The Man Who Understood Women Yes Yes Yes
1960 The Angel Wore Red Yes Yes
Flaming Star Yes
1962 Something's Got to Give Yes
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation Yes
1963 Take Her, She's Mine Yes
1964 The World of Henry Orient Yes
1965 Dear Brigitte Yes**
1967 The Dirty Dozen Yes

* Writer of original story
** Uncredited writer


  • Manchel, Frank. (1990). Film Study: An Analytical Bibliography. In Chapter 5 Comparative Literature. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 1252. ISBN 0-8386-3412-5. Google Book Search. Retrieved on March 11, 2009.
  • Lloyd, Craig (April 27, 2006). "Nunnally Johnson (1897–1977)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 


  1. Stempel, Tom (1980). Screenwriter, The Life and Times of Nunnally Johnson. A. S. Barnes. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-498-02362-0.
  2. Johnson, Nora (1979), Flashback: Nora Johnson on Nunnally Johnson, Doubleday, p. 20, ISBN 978-0-385-13406-4
  3. Stempel. – p.24.
  4. Official List of Officers of the Officers' Reserve Corps of the Army of the United States, 1, United States Adjutant-General's Office, 1919, pp. 34,123
  5. The Blueprint (Georgia Institute of Technology) – Class of 1924, Atlanta, Georgia: Blueprint Yearbook, 1924, p. 205
  6. Vogel, Sonja O. (2007), The Patrick Family, SALOP Vogel, p. 8
  7. Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Convention of the Pacific Coast Gas Association, 23, Pacific Coast Gas Association, 1932, p. 566
  8. Poor's Publishing Company, Standard and Poor's Corporation (1957), Poor's Register of Directors and Executives, United States and Canada, Part 2, Standard and Poor's Corp., p. 2410
  9. Nora Johnson. – p.8.
  10. Stempel. – p.28.
  11. Stempel. – p.33.
  12. Stempel. – p.103.
  13. 1 2 Victoria Talbot, 'Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission Splits 2 To 2 on Mountain Drive Landmark Vote', The Beverly Hills Courier, October 03, 2014, Vol. XXXXVIIII, No. 39, p. 4
  14. Obituary Variety, March 30, 1977, page 79.
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