Brad Johnson, the onetime rodeo cowboy and “Marlboro Man” who starred opposite Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss in the Steven Spielberg romantic drama Always, has died. He was 62.
Johnson died Feb. 18 of complications from COVID-19 in Fort Worth, Texas, his rep, Linda McAlister, told The Hollywood Reporter. THR was recently alerted about his death.
For director John Milius, Johnson portrayed a bombardier in Flight of the Intruder (1991) as well as Henry Nash, one of men under the command of Teddy Roosevelt, in the 1997 TNT miniseries Rough Riders, starring Tom Berenger.
Johnson played protagonist Rayford Steele alongside Kirk Cameron in three Left Behind movies; recurred in 1996 as the pediatrician Dominick O’Malley, who has a relationship with Daphne Zuniga’s Jo Reynolds, on Fox’s Melrose Place; and was Maj. Matthew Quentin Shepherd on the 1997-99 syndicated adventure series Soldier of Fortune, Inc.
Johnson also portrayed the title character in the 1993 miniseries Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times before reprising the role in Lone Justice 2 (1995) and Lone Justice: Showdown at Plum Creek (1996).
In Always (1989), a touching drama set in the world of aerial firefighters, Hunter’s Dorinda Durston falls for Johnson’s Ted Baker after her boyfriend, Pete Sandich (Dreyfuss), perishes. The film is a remake of Victor Fleming’s A Guy Named Joe (1943), with Johnson assuming Van Johnson’s character from the original Spencer Tracy starrer.
The son of a horse trainer, Brad William Johnson was born on Oct. 24, 1959, in Tucson, Arizona. He joined a professional rodeo circuit in 1984 and was spotted wrestling steers in Wyoming by a casting director looking for cowboys for a beer commercial.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson then worked as a Marlboro Man for the cigarette brand in ads and commercials and in several Calvin Klein ads before coming to Hollywood. He showed up on a 1986 episode of CBS’ Dallas and appeared for Roger Corman in Nam Angels (1989) before landing on Always.
Johnson built a hunting lodge in New Mexico and as a hobby restored Winchester Model 1886 rifles. He lived in the mountains of Colorado before moving to North Texas, where he sold ranch real estate.
Last year, Johnson was hired for a role in Treasure Valley, a Western movie set in Idaho, but none of his scenes were filmed in the wake of the sudden death of actor-writer Jay Pickett, 60, who died in the early days of production in July.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Laurie, and their children, Shane, Bellamy, Rachel, Eliana, Eden, Rebekah, Annabeth and William.
“Although he was taken too early, he lived life to the fullest and taught his children to do the same,” his family said in a statement. “Brad greatly enjoyed improving and enhancing land, in a way that maintained and respected its natural beauty. He always felt most at home outdoors, and his passion for the land made that evident. As much as he loved cowboying, hunting and land, Brad loved nothing more than his family.”