Real name: Donnie Wayne Johnson
Birthdate: December 15, 1949
Partner: Kelley Phleger
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Johnson was born in Flat Creek, Missouri. His father was a farmer, his mother a beautician. At the age of 6, he moved from Missouri to Wichita, Kansas. He graduated from South High School in Wichita, Kansas in 1967 and attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. He is of English origin.
In the late 1960's, Johnson was in a psychedelic rock band called the Horses. Also in the band were future members of the band Kingfish, which featured Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir. The band put out one self-titled record on the White Whale label in 1969, later re-issued on the Gear Fab label in 2004 and then on the Rev-Ola label in 2005.
Johnson was married twice to actress Melanie Griffith (briefly in 1976 and then from 1989-1996). On April 29, 1999, he married San Francisco socialite and former preschool teacher Kelley Phleger.
Johnson had a relationship with Barbra Streisand and created a single with her called "Till I Loved You".
Johnson has 5 children:
- With D'Arbanville, a son: Jesse Wayne Johnson (born on December 7, 1982)
- With Griffith, a daughter: Dakota Mayi Johnson (born October 4, 1989)
- With Phleger, a daughter: Atherton Grace Johnson (born on December 28, 1999)
- With Phleger, a son: Jasper Breckinridge Johnson (born on June 6, 2002)
- With Phleger, a son: Deacon (born on April 29, 2006)
Johnson studied drama at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. His first major role was in the 1969 Los Angeles stage production of Fortune and Men's Eyes in which he played Smitty, the lead role. This exposure led to the quickly forgotten 1970 film The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart. He continued to work on stage, film and television without breaking out into stardom. His notable films from this period were The Harrad Experiment (1973) and A Boy and His Dog (1975).
Johnson later starred in the 1996-2001 drama Nash Bridges with Cheech Marin and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. Johnson played the title role of Nash Bridges, a detective for the San Francisco Police Department. In Nash Bridges Johnson was again paired with a flashy convertible car, this time an electric yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda.
In the fall of 2005, he briefly starred in The WB courtroom television drama show Just Legal as a jaded lawyer with a very young and idealistic protegé/partner (Jay Baruchel); the show was cancelled in October 2006.
In January 2007, Johnson began a run in the London West End production of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit. American actor/dancer Patrick Swayze preceded Johnson in the role.