George Clayton Johnson

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-hour Archive interview, George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015) chronicles his career as a fiction, television, and movie writer.  He talks about his association with the 1960 feature film Oceans 11, for which he was the original co-screenwriter and received co-story credit on the movie. He details in depth, his association as one of the key collaborators on The Twilight Zone (1959-64) for which he contributed to eight series episodes including the classics "Nothing in the Dark," "A Game of Pool" and "Kick the Can." He describes The Twilight Zone' s place in television history and talks about producer Buck Houghton, creator Rod Serling, and writers Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. Johnson speaks in depth about Star Trek, for which he contributed the teleplay to what would become the premiere episode: "The Man Trap." Johnson also talks about his teleplays for such series as Route 66, The Law and Mr. Jones and Kung Fu. He also discusses the classic science fiction novel "Logan's Run," which he co-authored with William F. Nolan. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview in Pacoima, CA on September 16, 2003.

"I want to be remembered as a person who early on in his life took control of his life and set goals. When people gave me a lined paper, I wrote the other way. When people expect some certain behavior from me, I will frustrate their expectations."

Highlights
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Nothing in the Dark"
10:18
George Clayton Johnson on writing for The Twilight Zone and meeting Rod Serling
08:21
George Clayton Johnson on Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek and how Roddenberry was inspired by the program Wagon Train
12:34
George Clayton Johnson on the Star Trek episode he wrote, "The Man Trap," being the premiere episode 
03:42
George Clayton Johnson on his mentors
02:07
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on moving around a lot when he was a child; on quitting school in eighth grade; on being on his own at age fifteen
08:48
On odd jobs and joining the Army; on the first time he saw television
12:31
On following a woman to Alabama
08:47

Chapter 2

On getting married and working drafting jobs in architecture; on starting to write
09:16
On thinking he could be a writer - and starting to plot out "Ocean's Eleven"; on making it a screenplay instead of a novel; on getting an agent and selling the screenplay; on credit disputes
11:02
On covering the making of "Ocean's Eleven" for Playboy magazine
08:05

Chapter 3

On seeing "Ocean's Eleven" and meeting Frank Sinatra; on the remake of "Ocean's Eleven" starring George Clooney
16:04
On writing the Oscar-nominated short "Icarus Montgolfier Wright"
02:03
On writing for The Twilight Zone and meeting Rod Serling; on writing the episode "The Four of Us Are Dying"
11:15

Chapter 4

On The Twilight Zone episodes "The Four of Us Are Dying" and "Penny for Your Thoughts"
14:53
On Rod Serling and the reality of The Twilight Zone; on The Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton
13:25

Chapter 5

On Buck Houghton suggesting ideas for The Twilight Zone; on the story behind The Twilight Zone episode "Execution," adapted by Rod Serling
08:48
On The Twilight Zone episodes "Kick The Can," "Penny For Your Thoughts," and "Nothing in the Dark"
19:20

Chapter 6

On The Twilight Zone episodes "Ninety Years Without Slumbering" and "The Prime Mover"
15:18
On writing episodes of Route 66, The Law and Mr. Jones, and Mr. Novak
13:30

Chapter 7

On how he came to write for Star Trek; on the early storylines and character ideas for Star Trek
11:39
On Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; on Roddenberry rewriting his work
16:34

Chapter 8

On Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek; on the nickname "Bones" and race relations on Star Trek
15:17
On the set of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek and writing "The Man Trap" episode, which became the premiere episode
06:48
On Star Trek Associate Producer Robert Justman; on coming up with the story for the Star Trek episode "Rock-a-Bye Baby Or Die", which Gene Coon did not want to produce
06:21

Chapter 9

On arguments he had over storyline with the producers of Star Trek; on the legacy of Star Trek
05:52
On being a freelance writer for Honey West, Kentucky Jones, and Kung Fu
12:10
On co-writing the novel Logan's Run; on the movie version of Logan's Run
11:16

Chapter 10

On the "Kick The Can" segment of The Twilight Zone movie
09:32
On the remake of The Twilight Zone series
03:04
On his process for writing episodic television; on his mentors; on how he'd like to be remembered
08:56
B-roll photos from his career on the sets of The Intruder, Logan's Run, and The Twilight Zone
05:28
Shows

Honey West

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George Clayton Johnson on being a freelance writer for Honey West
00:48

Kentucky Jones

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George Clayton Johnson on being a freelance writer for Kentucky Jones
02:28

Kung Fu

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George Clayton Johnson on being a freelance writer for Kung Fu
08:45

Law and Mr. Jones, The

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George Clayton Johnson on writing an episode of The Law and Mr. Jones
02:44

Logan's Run

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George Clayton Johnson on co-writing the novel Logan's Run
06:49
George Clayton Johnson on the movie version of Logan's Run
04:25

Mr. Novak

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George Clayton Johnson on writing an episode of Mr. Novak
01:50

Route 66

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George Clayton Johnson on writing an episode of Route 66
08:56

Star Trek

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George Clayton Johnson on how he came to write for Star Trek 
09:13
George Clayton Johnson on the early storylines and character ideas for Star Trek
02:26
George Clayton Johnson on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; on Roddenberry rewriting his work
16:32
George Clayton Johnson on Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek and how Roddenberry was inspired by the program Wagon Train
12:34
George Clayton Johnson on the nickname "Bones" on Star Trek
01:20
George Clayton Johnson on race relations on Star Trek
01:23
George Clayton Johnson on the set of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek
03:06
George Clayton Johnson on the Star Trek episode he wrote, "The Man Trap," being the premiere episode 
03:42
George Clayton Johnson on Star Trek Associate Producer Robert Justman
01:25
George Clayton Johnson on coming up with the story for the Star Trek episode "Rock-a-Bye Baby Or Die", which Gene Coon did not want to produce
04:56
George Clayton Johnson on arguments he had over storyline with the producers of Star Trek
03:22
George Clayton Johnson on the legacy of Star Trek
02:30

Twilight Zone, The

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George Clayton Johnson on his opinion of The Twilight Zone movie
01:47
George Clayton Johnson on writing for The Twilight Zone and meeting Rod Serling
03:47
George Clayton Johnson on how he wrote The Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying"
07:28
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying" 
02:44
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Penny for Your Thoughts"
12:09
George Clayton Johnson on the reality of The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling's influences
05:48
George Clayton Johnson on working with The Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton
07:37
George Clayton Johnson on Buck Houghton suggesting ideas for The Twilight Zone
01:58
George Clayton Johnson on the story behind The Twilight Zone episode "Execution," adapted by Rod Serling
06:50
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episodes "Kick The Can" and "Penny For Your Thoughts"
09:02
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Nothing in the Dark"
10:18
George Clayton Johnson on the The Twilight Zone episode "Ninety Years Without Slumber"
04:47
George Clayton Johnson on the The Twilight Zone episode "The Prime Mover"
10:31
George Clayton Johnson on an episode of The Twilight Zone he wrote ("Kick the Can") that was used in the film version directed by Steven Spielberg and caused some trouble with the Writers Guild
09:32
George Clayton Johnson on the remake of The Twilight Zone series
03:04

Wagon Train

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George Clayton Johnson on Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek and how Roddenberry was inspired by the program Wagon Train
12:34
Topics

Classic TV series episodes

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George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Penny for Your Thoughts"
12:09
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying"
02:44

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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George Clayton Johnson on his mentors
02:07
George Clayton Johnson on his mentors
02:07

Historic Events and Social Change

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George Clayton Johnson as serving as a cartographer for the Army
10:16

Pivotal Career Moments

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George Clayton Johnson on his mentors
02:07

Pop Culture

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George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Penny for Your Thoughts"
12:09
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying"
02:44

War

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George Clayton Johnson as serving as a cartographer for the Army
10:16
Professions

Writers

View Profession
George Clayton Johnson on thinking he could be a writer - and starting to plot out "Ocean's Eleven"
06:56
George Clayton Johnson on an episode of The Twilight Zone he wrote ("Kick the Can") that was used in the film version directed by Steven Spielberg and caused some trouble with the Writers Guild
09:23
George Clayton Johnson on his process for writing episodic television
04:43
Genres

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
George Clayton Johnson on writing for The Twilight Zone and meeting Rod Serling
11:15
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episodes "The Four of Us Are Dying" and "Penny for Your Thoughts"; on Rod Serling and the reality of The Twilight Zone; on The Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton
28:18
George Clayton Johnson on Buck Houghton suggesting ideas for The Twilight Zone; on the story behind The Twilight Zone episode "Execution," adapted by Rod Serling
08:48
George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episodes "Kick The Can," "Penny For Your Thoughts," and "Nothing in the Dark"
19:20
George Clayton Johnson on the The Twilight Zone episodes "Ninety Years Without Slumber" and "The Prime Mover"
15:18
George Clayton Johnson on how he came to write for Star Trek; on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; on Roddenberry rewriting his work
28:13
George Clayton Johnson on Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek, race relations, and specific episodes of the show
28:26
George Clayton Johnson on arguments he had over storyline with the producers of Star Trek; on the legacy of Star Trek
05:52
People

Ray Bradbury

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George Clayton Johnson on the reality of The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling's influences
05:48
George Clayton Johnson on his mentors
00:37

John Carradine

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George Clayton Johnson on being a freelance writer for Kung Fu and John Carradine directing the episode he wrote
03:47

George Clooney

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George Clayton Johnson on the remake of "Ocean's Eleven" starring George Clooney
00:26

Gene Coon

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George Clayton Johnson on coming up with the story for the Star Trek episode "Rock-a-Bye Baby Or Die", which Gene Coon did not want to produce
04:56
George Clayton Johnson on arguments he had over storyline with the producers of Star Trek
03:22

Buddy Ebsen

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George Clayton Johnson on the The Twilight Zone episode "The Prime Mover"
10:31

Buck Houghton

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George Clayton Johnson on working with The Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton
07:37
George Clayton Johnson on Buck Houghton suggesting ideas for The Twilight Zone
01:58
George Clayton Johnson on the story behind The Twilight Zone episode "Execution" adapted by Rod Serling
06:50

Lamont Johnson

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George Clayton Johnson on Lamont Johnson directing The Twilight Zone episode "Nothing in the Dark"
00:51

Robert Justman

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George Clayton Johnson on Star Trek Associate Producer Robert Justman
01:25

Dean Martin

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George Clayton Johnson on covering "Ocean's Eleven" for Playboy magazine and meeting Dean Martin
01:46

Richard Matheson

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George Clayton Johnson on the reality of The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling's influences
05:48

Robert Redford

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George Clayton Johnson on The Twilight Zone episode "Nothing in the Dark"
01:41

Gene Roddenberry

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George Clayton Johnson on how he came to write for Star Trek
09:13
George Clayton Johnson on the early storylines and character ideas Star Trek
02:26
George Clayton Johnson on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; on Roddenberry rewriting his work
16:32
George Clayton Johnson on Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek and how Roddenberry was inspired by the program Wagon Train
12:34
George Clayton Johnson on arguments he had over storyline with the producers of Star Trek
03:22

Rod Serling

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George Clayton Johnson on writing for The Twilight Zone and meeting Rod Serling
08:21
George Clayton Johnson on the reality of The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling's influences
05:48
George Clayton Johnson on the story behind The Twilight Zone episode "Execution" adapted by Rod Serling
06:50

James Sheldon

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George Clayton Johnson on James Sheldon directing The Twilight Zone episode "Penny for Your Thoughts"
12:09

Frank Sinatra

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George Clayton Johnson on covering "Ocean's Eleven" for Playboy magazine and observing Frank Sinatra
00:21
George Clayton Johnson on meeting Frank Sinatra
06:00

Herbert F. Solow

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George Clayton Johnson on advice from Herb Solow when he wrote for Star Trek
00:58

Steven Spielberg

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George Clayton Johnson on an episode of The Twilight Zone he wrote ("Kick the Can") that was used in the film version directed by Steven Spielberg and caused some trouble with the Writers Guild
09:32

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