George Clayton Johnson, the sci-fi writer who penned the first televised Star Trek episode and several episodes of The Twilight Zone, has died.
Johnson died of cancer in Los Angeles on Friday, his son, Paul B. Johnson, confirmed to the Associated Press. He was 86.
“Please emphasize how much he loved his fans, and judging by the overwhelming response I’ve received, from hundreds of people, known and unknown, he made quite an impact on them,” his son told the AP.
Johnson, a fixture at sci-fi conventions for decades, also co-wrote the dystopian futuristic novel Logan’s Run, which was released as a film starring Michael York as Logan and Jenny Agutter in 1976. A short-lived TV series also followed.
Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1929, Johnson broke into the entertainment industry in 1959 when he wrote the “I’ll Take Care of You” episode for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He was later introduced to Twilight Zone creator Rod Sterling and went on to pen a number of episodes for the series, including “Kick the Can,” “A Game of Pool,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and “Nothing in the Dark.”
His Star Trek script, “The Man Trap,” became the premiere episode of the series when it aired on Sept. 8, 1966. The episode centered on a salt-hungry creature that terrorized the crew of the USS Enterprise.
Johnson also penned a short story that became the basis for Ocean’s 11, the 1960 Frank Sinatra film that was remade in 2011 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt (followed by two more sequels). He also wrote episodes of Route 66, Honey West, and Kung Fu during his career.
In a 2003 interview for the Archive of American Television, Johnson said, “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.”
In addition to his son, Johnson is survived by a daughter, Judy Olive, and his wife, Lola Johnson.