Don Johnson Biography

Donald Wayne Johnson, popularly known as Don, is an American actor, producer, director, singer and songwriter. This biography profiles his childhood, life, acting and music career and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: December 15, 1949

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Don Johnson Actors

Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Also Known As: Donald Wayne Johnson

Born in: Flat Creek, Missouri, United States

Famous as: Actor, Producer, Singer, Songwriter

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males

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Spouse/Ex-: Kelley Phleger, Melanie Griffith, Pamela Des Barres

father: Wayne Johnson

mother: Nell Johnson

children: Dakota Johnson, Deacon Johnson, Grace Johnson, Jasper Johnson, Jesse Johnson

U.S. State: Missouri

More Facts

education: University of Kansas, Wichita South High School

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Donald Wayne Johnson, popularly known as Don, is an American actor, producer, director, singer and songwriter of considerable repute. Initially, he wanted to become a professional bowler but once he became involved in his school theatre programs he began to take interest in acting. After graduation he studied drama at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Although he got his first major role at the age of twenty, it took him sometime to establish himself as a star. His luck turned for the better when he got the chance to play the role of Sonny Crockett in popular television series ‘Miami Vice’. He became a star overnight. Once the series ended he was invited to play the lead role in many well-known films and television serials. Till date, he has eighty four titles to his credit. So far he has also released three music albums, which have been received warmly by the music lovers. However, all had not been well with the star. In 2008, he almost lost his Colorado ranch because of his $14.5million debts. His personal life too is riddled with divorces and separations.

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Childhood and Early Life
  • Don Johnson got his first major role in 1969. He played the lead role of Smitty in ‘Fortune and Men’s Eyes’, a Los Angeles stage production. It caught the attention of film director Leonard J. Horn and he got the role of Stanley Sweetheart in ‘The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart’ (1970). However, the film failed to make any mark.
  • He then continued working in different commercials, television shows and films. Films like ‘Zachariah’ (1971),’The Harrad Experiment’ (1973), ‘Lollipop and Roses’ (1974), and ‘A Boy and His Dog’ (1975) and television series like ‘Revenge of the Stepford Wives’ (1980) are some of his notable works during this period.
  • Although Don received critical acclaim and Best Actor Award for ‘A Boy and His Dog’ it did not have any positive effect on his career. Finally in 1984, Don got his first real break in a television series called ‘Miami Vice’ (1984 to 1989). In this series Don appeared as undercover police detective Sonny Crockett. It brought him instant stardom.
  • After ‘Miami Vice’ ended in 1989, Don began to star in number of films such as‘Hot Spot’ (1990), ‘Paradise’ (1991), ‘Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man’ (1991), ‘Born Yesterday’ (1993), ‘Guilty as Sin’ (1993), ‘In Pursuit of Honor’ (1995), ‘Tin Cup’ (1996).
  • In 1985, he had a substantial role in television miniseries titled ‘Ben Quick’. It was the TV remake of ‘The Long, Hot Summer’. The role added to his popularity. However, after ‘Miami Vice’ he had to wait till 1996 to get any major role in any other television series.
  • From 1996 to 2001, Don Johnson starred in a television police drama, ‘Nash Bridges’. In this series he enacted the role of an Inspector/Captain of San Francisco Police Department and was named Nash Bridges. He was only member of the cast, who appeared in the drama’s 122 episodes.
  • Next in 2005, Don enacted the part of a cynical and alcoholic lawyer in a short-lived courtroom drama called ‘Just Legal’. Although all eight episodes were filmed, the series was cancelled after three. However, these episodes had a rerun next year, after which five unaired episode were discarded.
  • In 2007, Don took part in a musical called ‘Guys and Dolls’. It was a West End of London production and Don enacted the role of Nathan Detroit.
  • Next year in 2008, he starred in a Norwegian comedy film called ‘Lange Flate Ballær II’. In this film, he enacted the role of Admiral Burnett, an Admiral in the US navy. ‘Bastardi’ and ‘Torno a vivere da solo’ are two other films which released in the same year.
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  • Don Johnson next appeared as the father of the protagonist in a film called ‘When in Rome’ (2010). ‘Southern Discomfort’ was another of his movies that released in 2010. It is a comedy film, which portrays how a father’s life is disrupted when his grown up children move back home.
  • In 2010, he appeared as Von Jackson in an action film called ‘Machete’. It was released in September, 2010. From October Don began appearing in a sports comedy television series called ‘Eastbound and Down’. Here he enacted the role of Eduardo Sanchez Powers, the long lost father of the protagonist Kenny Powers.
  • Next year in 2011, Don appeared in a comedy film called ‘A Good Old Fashioned Orgy’. In this film too he enacted the role of the father of main protagonist. ‘Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star’ also released in 2011.
  • In 2012, he enacted the role of Spencer "Big Daddy" Bennett in a black comedy film titled 'Django Unchained'. The film was a huge hit and it bagged many nominations and awards.
  • In 2014, he appeared as Sheriff Earl McGraw in seven episodes of the television series titled ‘From Dusk till Dawn’. The same year, he appeared in films such as ‘The other Woman’, ‘Alex of Venice’ and ‘Cold in July’.
  • From 2015, Don Johnson has started appearing in a prime time soap opera named ‘Blood and Oil’. In this series, he plays the part of the oil tycoon and family patriarch Harlan "Hap" Briggs. Apart from that he was also the executive producer of the series.It was premiered September 27, 2015 on ABC.
Music Career
  • He has so far three albums to his credit. The first album titled ‘Heartbeat’ was released in 1986. It was a major hit and the title track occupied the fifth place on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. His second album ‘Let It Roll’ was released in 1989 and the third, a compilation album titled ‘Essential’, was released in 1997.
  • Don also has number of single hits to his credit; they are ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Heartache Away’, ‘Voice on A Hotline’, ‘Tell It Like It Is’, ‘Other Peoples Lives’, ‘A Better Place’ etc. His duet ‘Till I loved You’ also made big hits.
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  • In addition, Don has co-written numerous songs, which have become all time hits. ‘Blind Love’, ‘Can’t Take It With You’, ‘Till I Loved You’ etc. are some of them.
Major Work
  • ‘A Boy and His Dog’ is the first major film by Don Johnson. He got his first award for his performance in this film.
  • ’Miami Vice’ is Don’s first major television series. It not only brought him instant stardom, but also a Golden Globe Award.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1970, he was given the Saturn Best Actor Award for his role in the ‘A Boy and His Dog’ by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
  • In 1985, Johnson received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
  • In 1986, he won ‘Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series’ for his performances in ‘Miami Vice’.
  • In 1987, he was nominated in the same category for the same role in ‘Miami Vice’; but failed to win
  • In 1988, he won APBA Offshore World Cup in the Superboat class category.
  • In 1996, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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Personal Life
  • He has married five times. However, the names of his first two wives have remained undisclosed till date. It is only known that these marriages took place in late 1960s and were short-lived.
  • When Don was twenty two, he began dating Melanie Griffith, who at that time was only fourteen years old. They began to live together once she turned fifteen and got engaged when she became eighteen. Finally, they got married in January, 1976, but within six months they had their marriage annulled.
  • Don Johnson began a live-in relationship with Pamela Des Barres. From 1981 to 1988, he had another relationship with Patti D'Arbanville. Their son Jessie Wayne Johnson was born in1982. After his break up with Patti, he developed a relationship with Barbra Streisand and it lasted till September 1988.
  • Don and Melanie reconciled and got married for the second time in June 1989. Their daughter Dakota Johnson was born in the same year. The couple finally divorced in 1996. After the divorce Don Johnson was briefly engaged to Jodi Lyn O'Keefe.
  • On April 29, 1999, Johnson married Kelley Phleger. Till date, the couple has three children - Atherton Grace Johnson, Jasper Breckinridge Johnson and Deacon Johnson.
Net Worth
  • As on 2015, net worth of Don Johnson is believed to be around US$ 40 million. Apart from his earnings from acting and endowments he also received $19 million as legal settlement from Rysher Entertainment, company that produced Nash Bridges.

1. Django Unchained (2012)

  (Western, Drama)

2. Knives Out (2019)

  (Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller)

3. Melanie (1982)


4. A Boy and His Dog (1975)

  (Thriller, Sci-Fi, Drama, Comedy)

5. Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

  (Action, Crime, Mystery, Drama, Thriller)

6. Paradise (1991)


7. The Hot Spot (1990)

  (Thriller, Romance, Crime, Drama)

8. The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970)



Golden Globe Awards
1986 Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama Miami Vice (1984)

See the events in life of Don Johnson in Chronological Order

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- Don Johnson Biography
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Last Updated
- September 17, 2017
Don Johnson

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