Dennis Johnson, veteran television programming executive and producer, died December 23 while on vacation in Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies. He had suffered a heart attack hours earlier and died at a hospital in Gustavia, according to his longtime partner Russ Patrick. He was 68. The Kenbridge, VA native began his TV career as a page at NBC on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He went on to become Director of Comedy and Variety Programs at NBC, then VP Programming at ABC, before heading Osmond Television, for the Osmond family. Eventually, he became SVP of Programming at Showtime, where he established the Black Filmmakers Program. He was president of the National Association of Minorities in Cable (NAMIC) and served on the Board of the Special Olympics.
Johnson later served as producer or executive producer on several films, including Keep The Faith, Baby, Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story and The Year That Trembled. He also executive produced the TV special From The Heart: The Four Tops 50th Anniversary Celebration. Since retiring, Dennis served as a volunteer at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. He was also a member of the congregation at El Montecito Presbyterian in Montecito. He volunteered via The Sherry Lansing Foundation and PrimeTime LAUSD as a mentor for mostly minority students in LA’s public high schools. Plans are pending for a celebration of his life later this month.
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