Dennis C. Johnson

Profile Updated: October 14, 2016
Residing In NH USA
Spouse/Partner Grace
Homepage www.rollickingproductions.com
Occupation Actor, director, writer, voiceover artist
Children Alicia, born 1974, pharmaceutical manufacturing supervisor; Tain, born 1976, musician, actor, yoga instructor; More…Smith, born 1985, professional poker player; Dylan, born 1986, musician, actor
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I went to San Jose State for seven years and never graduated because I was too busy doing shows, dance, mime, theatre, music, and especially touring story theatre to schools using all of the aforementioned. Many hundreds of shows. Between 1974 and 1986 I had a daughter and three sons, all of whom, due to strange circumstances, I was privileged to raise as a single father for most of their young lives. I was in the recording industry for a number of years in the late 70s, thanks to my best friend for many years, Gene McDaniels, who wrote songs with me and recorded them, made me his assistant, introduced me to everyone from George Harrison to Quincy Jones to Karen Carpenter, and taught me much about life. Spent a lot of time at A&M, which was located in Charlie Chaplin’s old silent studios. Moved from CA to VA in 1981 and haven’t been able to get back since. I discovered interactive theatre in 1983, or it discovered me. So I produced, directed, and created a lot of it from then on, as well as recording voice overs and being regional on-camera talent for decades. Lots of solo guitar gigs. I was fortunate enough to do three characters for League of Legends, an online game that has 60M players a week. I now live in NH with my lovely partner of 8 years, Grace. Her daughter is at UCLA studying theatre, and wow is she good. I helped a little. Me, I’m still trying to make it in show biz. I teach, record, shoot, edit, direct, write, act sometimes, and work on a pet project - creating a unique entertainment theme park. If you don’t mind my sharing, there’s a number of fun video and audio retrospectives of some of my performance work, on, yes, my website- www.rollickingproductions.com

School Story

If you will kindly indulge me, I have some things I would like to share about Lorraine Lawton. She and I were very close for a while. We became friends at Campbell in 1963 from being in a math class together, where she sat a row over from me. When JFK was shot and so many people were in tears, I remember being surprised that she wasn’t crying, although she was sad. A year later, for me it was difficult to escape the parallels; intense loss through death at a distance, and an even more intense loss through death up close. It was November, always a scary month after those two years, in 1964 at Westmont and I was just coming in for a morning class when someone, I believe it was Nancy Unger, said something to me and I jokingly replied back. I could tell by the look on her face that I had misinterpreted what she was saying. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Didn’t you hear?” she said. "Lorraine was in an accident.” I can still feel the plummeting sensation that pulled me down through the floor at that moment. The last time I had seen her was at our football game a couple of days before. For some reason, I had really wanted to talk to her, but after getting out of uniform and looking for her, she was already gone. I wanted to call her that night, but I didn't. Her mother told me later that she seemed very pensive and went out walking that evening by herself, in the rain. I often wondered afterward if she had had a premonition about her exceptional life coming to an end. I had had my own premonition of sorts, as I had for some reason been looking in the obituary column of the newspaper for a couple of weeks, looking for her name. Of course usually such things are rationalized as foolishness and not taken seriously, and such was the case with me. When I found out about the accident, for the rest of the school day I was in a daze. After school I called her folks and asked if I could go to the hospital to see her. She was unconscious they said, but I still wanted to go. Her dad took me in to her room. There she lay on the hospital bed with her head bandaged, eyes closed, almost serene, looking as if she could wake up at any moment and turn her head and smile at me. “There’s no hope,” her father said. Being raised in a metaphysical household I replied, “That’s not true, hope is God. Are you saying there’s no God?” I recall he just looked at me strangely. She remained in a coma for two weeks or so. Each day I rehearsed in my mind what I was going to say to her when she came out of it, and how I would tell her all about what had happened at school and in the neighborhood while she was away. She can’t die, I reasoned to myself, too many people need her. It was her father who called on the day she died to tell me. I remember his voice being emotionless. I was not, and am not. It’s strange how events from 50 years ago can still cause tears today. I’ve seen it before in soldiers, even 90 year old soldiers from WWII, as they recalled their experiences with death. I was never a soldier, but Lorraine’s death wounded me badly. Hers was the last funeral I could ever manage to go to until that of my longtime best friend Gene McDaniels in 2011. After she died, our families became closer, although her death split up her mother and father. I often took care of her little sister Kelly, who wasn’t even 2 when Lorraine died. She was, as they say, the spitting image of her big sister. I sought out and made friends with the young college man John who was driving the night of the accident. He was riddled with guilt. “I don’t know what happened," he said. "It was raining and we were coming over the mountains from Santa Cruz and suddenly we skidded and rolled over. I was thrown clear from the car. She hit the windshield. I lay there in the middle of the road, and no one ran over me. I was fine and she was not. Why couldn’t it have been me?” John and I remained friends for several years, often playing basketball and surfing together, before we drifted apart. I think I initially felt that being close to the last person Lorraine was consciously with, someone she was fond of, made me feel closer to her. A year or two afterwards, I visited another friend of hers who made me feel closer to her, Helene, who was living outside Philadelphia at the time. She had been struck blind because of Lorraine’s passing, but recovered her sight over time. For decades I kept Lorraine's senior picture on my desk. I didn’t want her to be forgotten. I didn’t want the world to go on without someone continuing to acknowledge the special life of a lovely young woman who never got to live more than a small part of it. I designated myself as that someone. I used to watch some 8mm film clips of the Song Girls during a football game that Lorraine was in, dancing. I was in the film too, on the football team. There was always some joy in being on the same field again with her, even if only on a piece of celluloid. She told me once with a chuckle that one of the Song Girls dear grandmother, who was kindly helping with their uniforms, had told her sweetly earlier in the year, “You Song Girls are going to sing good.” Of course, the Song Girls didn’t sing, but danced. For years, traveling to work with my dad on weekends in his mechanic shop at Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto, I would pass the cemetery where she was buried, but I could never bring myself to stop and visit the grave. I wanted to remember her life, not the remains of the end of it. I wanted to remember seeing A Shot In the Dark with her, going to the beach with her, meeting her in the little schoolyard close to her Saratoga home, playing the piano with her, taking care of Kelly with her. Not what came afterwards... So... that is as much of my story of Lorraine that I care to tell, friends and school mates from a half century ago, a story of events that came back full on to me after seeing the wonderful picture Michael posted of her. If there are those of you who find my remembrances offensively maudlin or pathetic, or think this an inappropriate forum for such ancient sentimentality, please understand that for almost fifty years I have not been able to speak about her with anyone who knew her, outside of our families. Now, because of technology and social media, I can, and have. It’s really just my way of affirming her life again, in spite of its brevity; of saying to her in the presence of others who knew her, wherever in the universe that beautiful life essence that was her might be: Lorraine, we, your friends, have never forgotten you, and we still love you very much.

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Oct 14, 2016 at 8:48 AM

Lots of things to share and show, but that's why they call it show business, and this is my 50th year as a professional. Hope you all are well, happy, and prosperous!

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Oct 14, 2016 at 8:50 AM

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This is a trailer for Celia Thaxter's Island Garden, a documentary produced, directed and imaged by Peter Randall. Edited and narrated by Dennis Collins Johnson.
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Oct 14, 2016 at 8:47 AM

Posted on: Oct 14, 2016 at 8:43 AM

A video sampler of an interactive presentation of Casey at the Bat for K-6th graders, by the player/manager of the 1912 Boston Bloomers.
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Jul 11, 2015 at 11:23 PM
Dennis C. Johnson has left an In Memory comment for Lorraine Lawton.
Jun 24, 2015 at 4:33 AM

If you will kindly indulge me, I have some things I would like to share about Lorraine Lawton. She and I were very close for a while. We became friends at Campbell in 1963 from being in a math class together, where she sat a row over from me. When JFK was shot and so many people were in tears, I remember being surprised that she wasn’t crying, although she was sad. A year later, for me it was difficult to escape the parallels; intense loss through death at a distance, and an even more intense loss through death up close. It was November, always a scary month after those two years, in 1964 at Westmont and I was just coming in for a morning class when someone, I believe it was Nancy Unger, said something to me and I jokingly replied back. I could tell by the look on her face that I had misinterpreted what she was saying. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Didn’t you hear?” she said. "Lorraine was in an accident.” I can still feel the plummeting sensation that pulled me down through the floor at that moment. The last time I had seen her was at our football game a couple of days before. For some reason, I had really wanted to talk to her, but after getting out of uniform and looking for her, she was already gone. I wanted to call her that night, but I didn't. Her mother told me later that she seemed very pensive and went out walking that evening by herself, in the rain. I often wondered afterward if she had had a premonition about her exceptional life coming to an end. I had had my own premonition of sorts, as I had for some reason been looking in the obituary column of the newspaper for a couple of weeks, looking for her name. Of course usually such things are rationalized as foolishness and not taken seriously, and such was the case with me. When I found out about the accident, for the rest of the school day I was in a daze. After school I called her folks and asked if I could go to the hospital to see her. She was unconscious they said, but I still wanted to go. Her dad took me in to her room. There she lay on the hospital bed with her head bandaged, eyes closed, almost serene, looking as if she could wake up at any moment and turn her head and smile at me. “There’s no hope,” her father said. Being raised in a metaphysical household I replied, “That’s not true, hope is God. Are you saying there’s no God?” I recall he just looked at me strangely. She remained in a coma for two weeks or so. Each day I rehearsed in my mind what I was going to say to her when she came out of it, and how I would tell her all about what had happened at school and in the neighborhood while she was away. She can’t die, I reasoned to myself, too many people need her. It was her father who called on the day she died to tell me. I remember his voice being emotionless. I was not, and am not. It’s strange how events from 50 years ago can still cause tears today. I’ve seen it before in soldiers, even 90 year old soldiers from WWII, as they recalled their experiences with death. I was never a soldier, but Lorraine’s death wounded me badly. Hers was the last funeral I could ever manage to go to until that of my longtime best friend Gene McDaniels in 2011. After she died, our families became closer, although her death split up her mother and father. I often took care of her little sister Kelly, who wasn’t even 2 when Lorraine died. She was, as they say, the spitting image of her big sister. I sought out and made friends with the young college man John who was driving the night of the accident. He was riddled with guilt. “I don’t know what happened," he said. "It was raining and we were coming over the mountains from Santa Cruz and suddenly we skidded and rolled over. I was thrown clear from the car. She hit the windshield. I lay there in the middle of the road, and no one ran over me. I was fine and she was not. Why couldn’t it have been me?” John and I remained friends for several years, often playing basketball and surfing together, before we drifted apart. I think I initially felt that being close to the last person Lorraine was consciously with, someone she was fond of, made me feel closer to her. A year or two afterwards, I visited another friend of hers who made me feel closer to her, Helene, who was living outside Philadelphia at the time. She had been struck blind because of Lorraine’s passing, but recovered her sight over time. For decades I kept Lorraine's senior picture on my desk. I didn’t want her to be forgotten. I didn’t want the world to go on without someone continuing to acknowledge the special life of a lovely young woman who never got to live more than a small part of it. I designated myself as that someone. I used to watch some 8mm film clips of the Song Girls during a football game that Lorraine was in, dancing. I was in the film too, on the football team. There was always some joy in being on the same field again with her, even if only on a piece of celluloid. She told me once with a chuckle that one of the other Song Girls, Lynn Igoe, had a dear grandmother who was kindly helping to make their uniforms, and that she had told her sweetly earlier in the year, “You Song Girls are going to sing good.” Of course, the Song Girls didn’t sing, but danced. For years, traveling to work with my dad on weekends in his mechanic shop at Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto, I would pass the cemetery where she was buried, but I could never bring myself to stop and visit the grave. I wanted to remember her life, not the remains of the end of it. I wanted to remember seeing A Shot In the Dark with her, going to the beach with her, meeting her in the little schoolyard close to her Saratoga home, playing the piano with her, taking care of Kelly with her. Not what came afterwards... So... that is as much of my story of Lorraine that I care to tell, friends and school mates from a half century ago, a story of events that came back full on to me after seeing the wonderful picture Michael posted of her. If there are those of you who find my remembrances offensively maudlin or pathetic, or think this an inappropriate forum for such ancient sentimentality, please understand that for almost fifty years I have not been able to speak about her with anyone who knew her, outside of our families. Now, because of technology and social media, I can, and have. It’s really just my way of affirming her life again, in spite of its brevity; of saying to her in the presence of others who knew her, wherever in the universe that beautiful life essence that was her might be: Lorraine, we, your friends, have never forgotten you, and we still love you very much.

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Dennis and Pam 1966
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Jun 11, 2015 at 11:46 PM
A music video I produced and shot, including behind the scenes footage, with a group of teenage girls who were not previously screened for writing, musical or acting talent. The idea was not to teach them how to make a music video, but to teach them important life lessons like setting goals, creating, growing ideas, collaboration, trust, mutuality, by working side by side with professionals to write, sing, dance, and act in a music video.
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Dennis and Pam 1966
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Casey at the Bat - Interactive Theatre Sampler

A video sampler of an interactive presentation of Casey at the Bat for K-6th graders, by the player/manager of the 1912 Boston Bloomers.
Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:05 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:24 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

Posted: Oct 14, 2016 at 8:44 AM

Sweet Forever by Eugene McDaniels

Gene McDaniels sings Sweet Forever in 2010
Posted: Oct 14, 2016 at 8:44 AM

Celia Thaxter Island Garden - Trailer

This is a trailer for Celia Thaxter's Island Garden, a documentary produced, directed and imaged by Peter Randall. Edited and narrated by Dennis Collins Johnson.
Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 2:18 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

A music video I produced and shot, including behind the scenes footage, with a group of teenage girls who were not previously screened for writing, musical or acting talent. The idea was not to teach them how to make a music video, but to teach them important life lessons like setting goals, creating, growing ideas, collaboration, trust, mutuality, by working side by side with professionals to write, sing, dance, and act in a music video.
Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:13 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:44 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:27 AM

Dennis C. Johnson

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 2:12 AM

Dennis C. Johnson