Tore Johansson (19 October 1903 – 12 May 1971), better known by the stage name Tor Johnson, was a Swedish professional wrestler (billed as The Super Swedish Angel) and actor. He appeared in many B-movies, including three Edward D. Wood, Jr. films.
Johnson weighed 181 kilograms (400 pounds) at his heaviest. He had a full head of black hair, but shaved it to maintain an imposing and villainous appearance in his wrestling and acting work.
Tor began getting bit parts in films upon moving to California, usually as the strongman or weightlifter, as early as 1934.
During his career as an actor, Johnson befriended director Edward D. Wood, Jr., who directed him in a number of films, including Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. He was apparently very friendly to work with, actress Valda Hansen described him as “like a big sugar bun.”
His film career ended in the early 1960s, after he appeared in a string of poverty row films, with The Beast of Yucca Flats being the nadir as his role required no dialogue. However, Johnson continued to make occasional appearances on television and made a number of commercials.
During this period, Johnson appeared as a guest contestant on the quiz show You Bet Your Life, during which he showed the show’s host, Groucho Marx, his “scariest face.” Marx ran off the stage in mock terror, then returned and pleaded: “Don’t make that face again!”
In 1971, Johnson died from heart failure at the San Fernando Valley Hospital in San Fernando, California.
In Mad Max (1979), Mel Gibson wears a Tor Johnson mask to cheer up his wife!
Johnson was portrayed by wrestler George “The Animal” Steele in Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood (1994).
Johnson was featured extensively in the early work of cartoonist Drew Friedman. The comics supposedly follow Johnson as he becomes involved in various seedy adventures.
Ghost Catchers – Mug
The Canterville Ghost – Bold Sir Guy
Bride of the Monster – Lobo
The Black Sleep – Mr Curry
Plan 9 from Outer Space (released 1959) – Inspector Daniel Clay
The Unearthly – Lobo
Night of the Ghouls (released 1959) – Lobo
The Beast of Yucca Flats – Joseph Javorsky / The Beast
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