In one of the saddest Yuletide occurrences imaginable, “Mr. Death” (as he was dubbed in the Twilight Zone episode “Nothing in the Dark”) claimed George Clayton Johnson, who wrote that classic teleplay, on Christmas Day at the age of 86. I don’t have a great deal to add to my original profile of George, but direct you posthaste to the excellent obituaries on Mike Glyer’s “news of science fiction fandom” site, File 770 (where he was kind enough to link to my profile), and the blog of Chris Conlon, a preeminent chronicler of Johnson’s impressive literary circle.
My three-part Filmfax interview with George, the merest fraction of which I was able to draw on for my profile, may have been the longest I ever published. And the tales I heard from such other “Southern California Sorcerers” as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, and Jerry Sohl of their friendships and collaborations with him only deepened my appreciation for both the work and spirit of this imaginative, if insufficiently prolific, man.
I only had the pleasure of meeting George in person once, years after our epic telephone interview, when I flew out to L.A. to meet Matheson for the second and final time in 2005. They did a panel together entitled “Meet the Masters of The Twilight Zone” at the Horror Writers Association’s annual Bram Stoker Awards Weekend, and I had a too-brief chance to hang out with George afterward, finding him to be just as genial, friendly, and enthusiastic as ever.
George, you brightened a lot of lives in so many ways. In “Mr. Death’s” memorable words, but also befitting the co-author (with Nolan) of Logan’s Run, “The running is over and it’s time to rest.”