Dec. 15th, 1949
Flat Creek, Missouri, USA
Don Johnson's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Best known for his starring role as Det. Sonny Crockett on the hugely successful TV show "Miami Vice" (1984), Don Johnson is one of the stars that really defined the 1980s. As James "Sonny" Crockett he went toe-to-toe with drug-dealers, pimps, prostitutes, assassins, illegal arms-dealers and crooked cops on a weekly basis from 1984 to 1989, appearing in a grand total of 110 episodes. The show, which was executive produced by the four time Oscar-nominated director, producer and writer Michael Mann (I), paired Johnson with the equally cool Philip Michael Thomas as Det. Ricardo Tubbs and the calm and stoic presence of Edward James Olmos as Lt. Martin Castillo. It revolutionized television with its modern fashion, pop music, unique style and use of real locations. Johnson typically wore thousand dollar Armani, Versace and Hugo Boss suits over pastel cotton t-shirts, drove a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona (later a Ferrari Testarossa) and lived on a Endeavour 42 sailboat named the St. Vitus' Dance with his pet alligator Elvis. He also had full utility of an offshore power-boat. Still, Miami Vice was not just style, but also substance, and his portrayal of the Vietnam veteran turned Vice detective made Sonny Crockett into the world's favorite cop. For his work on Miami Vice, he won one Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series in 1986, and was nominated in the same category a year later. He also picked up one Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1985.
Johnson was born in Flat Creek, Missouri, the son of a farmer and a beautician. As a kid, he wanted to become a professional bowler. Later, after a few brushes with the law at a young age, he discovered acting. After working on stage for a while, he ventured into films and television, but was not able to break out into stardom despite among other things starring in the sci-fi cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975). In the 1970s, he met Melanie Griffith and they started living together despite the fact that she was only 14 and he was 22. In 1976, they married, but it did not last long. They married again in 1989, but divorced in 1996.
Johnson starred in four failed TV pilots before landing his career launching role on Miami Vice, which propelled him to super stardom. He directed four highly-praised episodes of the show, one of them co-starring Melanie Griffith. He balanced his work with the series by appearing in a praised mini-series adaption of the Paul Newman (I) & Martin Ritt (I) film The Long Hot Summer (1985) (TV) and the film Sweet Hearts Dance (1988) with Susan Sarandon. After the show ended, he focused solely on his film career. Although films like Dead Bang (1989), The Hot Spot (1990) and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) did not fare well with the critics, quite a few of them have obtained a considerable cult following, with fans praising them as all being quality contributions to their genre. His film work has given Johnson the opportunity to work with legendary filmmakers like John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper.
After working steadily, Johnson returned to TV in 1996 with the cop show "Nash Bridges" (1996). The show, which Johnson created and produced, did very well. It co-starred Cheech Marin and 'Jodi Lyn O'Keefe'. Johnson played the title role of Nash Bridges, captain of the SFPD's Special Investigations Unit. He was again paired with a flashy vehicle, this time an electric yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda. After "Nash Bridges", Johnson has kept a low profile, but continues to appear in films and on television. He starred in the failed WB court-room drama "Just Legal" (2005), which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and uses his star to grace foreign work, such as the Norwegian screwball comedy Lange flate ballær II (2008) and the Italian films Bastardi (2008) and Torno a vivere da solo (2008). He will soon be seen in the romantic comedy When in Rome (2010) with Anjelica Huston and Danny DeVito, as well as the indie comedy A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2009).
- Was given a Ferrari Testarossa by 'Enzo Ferrari (I)' (qv) as an appreciation of his work on _"Miami Vice" (1984)_ (qv).
- During pre-production of _"Miami Vice" (1984)_ (qv), he wanted Sonny Crockett to be "more of a cowboy", and suggested "a lot of denim, V-neck sweaters and cowboy boots". He was really unsure about how the heavy use of pastel and bright colors would fit the macho, no-nonsense persona of his character, but producer 'Michael Mann (I)' (qv) and costume designer 'Jodie Lynn Tillen' (qv) managed to convince him. They saw Crockett more in the lines of a beach bum. Johnson relented and as a result became one of the biggest fashion symbols of the 1980s.
- Considers himself to be done with cop shows, but doesn't rule out joining a show "if it were international in scope and global in nature".
- 1998: Engaged to Kelley Phleger.
- Loves the Tuscany area of Italy and has vacationed there often.
- Legendary fashion designer 'Gianni Versace' (qv) cited Don Johnson and his alter-ego Sonny Crockett as inspirations. Versace once said: "The first person I dressed in Miami was Don Johnson.".
- He often arrived at the set of _"Miami Vice" (1984)_ (qv) in his own power boat, called "My Vice".
- Considered for the part of John McClane in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv).