"Va va va Van!" Van Johnson had just started a 7-year contract with MGM in 1942 when he was in a major road accident which left him with a metal plate in his head. Ineligible to serve during WWII, the studio used his all-American boyish looks to become America's war film hero. He was usually opposite June Allyson (I love "The Bride Goes Wild") or Esther Williams (my personal favorite is "Thrill of Romance"), two 'all-American girls' that made movie-goers flock to theaters.
In the 1950s, as middle age and a heavier build set in, he was limited with his roles. MGM also began to crumble, and his film career has been irregular since 1960. His career in the 70's and 80's has consisted mostly of stage work which has kept him under the Hollywood radar.
Although his personal life has been racked with turmoil -- from undergoing treatment for skin cancer to rumors of homosexuality -- Van will always remain timeless and pure on the silver screen. His movies will keep him charming, handsome, and as a great symbol as "the all-American" hero of Hollywood, fighting for our country in World War II.