Harry Johnson Obituary – Death: Prolific ‘Battlestar Galactica’ & ‘Law & Order’ Actor Who Starred In “Harry & Louise” Ads Passed Away At 81
Harry Johnson, a veteran actor with an extensive career spanning 40 years, passed away on January 2 in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. He was 81.
His wife, Christiane, confirmed the news to Deadline.
Born on December 27, 1942, in Plainfield, NJ, he was often credited as Chip Johnson in the 1970s and ’80s and was one of the last contract players for Universal Studios. Johnson began his screen career with the multi-part pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica in 1978 and went on to guest-star on numerous TV series, including M*A*S*H, Quincy M.E., The Incredible Hulk, Simon & Simon, The Greatest American Hero, Highway to Heaven, The A-Team, L.A. Law, Dynasty, Who’s the Boss?, Thirtysomething, Melrose Place, Party of Five, Roswell, Resurrection Blvd., Judging Amy, Days of Our Lives, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
He was a prolific ADR voice actor and also contributed to multiple Need for Speed video games. Johnson’s most successful period involved running the voice-over or looping groups on various Dick Wolf shows for more than two decades, including all the Law & Order and Chicago series.
He also appeared in features such as Real Genius, Warlock, and The Spitfire Grill, as well as several TV movies, notably starring opposite Batman alum Adam West in the 1981 sci-fi telepic Time Warp.
Johnson gained recognition for playing Harry in a series of TV and radio ads known as “Harry & Louise” in 1993-94, addressing President Bill Clinton’s health care plan. Funded by the Health Insurance Association of America, the spots were so successful that the Democratic National Committee eventually ran response ads.
Johnson and Louise Claire Clark reprised their roles for election-year commercials in 2000 and 2004. “Harry & Louise” returned in an ad during the 2008 Democratic National Convention and again in support of President Barack Obama’s new health care plan in the following year. The spots were parodied during the 2006 Oscars broadcast by then-Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert.
Later in his career, Johnson authored books under the name Harry Castle. His first novel was 2013’s Fugitive Romance: The Fictional Memoir of a Hollywood Screenwriter, and his second book was the short-story collection Miracles & Misfits. His essays, short stories, and poetry appeared in various literary journals and periodicals.
According to his wife, Johnson loved sailing and was known for his wit and ability to bring a positive atmosphere to sets, making work enjoyable for his colleagues.
Survived by his wife Christiane of 15 years, Johnson is also survived by his stepchildren Oliver and Penelope. A memorial service is pending.